my approach to therapy is influenced by traditions that place some weight on judicial self disclosure, on the idea of the wounded healer, on the notion that there is very little we can know for certain, and on paying attention to the here and now: the here and now of the client’s life, of the experience during the therapeutic moment, of the unfolding relationship between the client and myself as we walk a stretch side by side on the client’s life journey.
there have been a number of occurrences lately that brought this approach into sharper awareness than usual. for whatever reason, right now i take particular notice of tendencies to speak of our experience as if it didn’t really happen to us, as in, “people are really angry these days” or “when you feel this bad, you can’t do anything about it”. what am i trying to do when i shift my own felt experience onto “people” and “you”?
i have also just taken a workshop where the facilitator kept on asking us to speak from our own experience, not in terms of opinions or hearsay. and when i was on the other end of the stick the other day and gave a lunch and learn presentation at bc hydro, one comment was that i spoke a lot of my own experiences and maybe not quite enough about how i have helped clients.
finally, i have been quite aware lately of how often i think and communicate in terms of questions, rather than statements. as in:
what can i learn from this?
here’s one thing:
thinking about this has helped me clarify more what the characteristics are of clients and problems where i think i can help (and where i cannot help).
1) i need to personally feel a connection with the person and
2) with the difficulty they are experiencing, and
3) i need to honestly feel (not just think) that these difficulties can be overcome, and
4) that there are a number of ways out of/through/beyond these difficulties.
people who are confounded by depression, the range of eating disorders, unhealthy substance use and other addictions, chronic pain, questions around spirituality, life transition, sexual and other abuse experiences, posttraumatic stress disorder – these are all difficulties that meet these criteria.
this is also why i do not feel qualified to see couples (and have never sought to learn about it) – i would not be able to meet qualification number 4): i’m way too tempted to have an agenda. it is also the reason why i do not deal well with people with narcissistic or true borderline tendencies – i don’t meet most of the criteria.
(nb: when i say “true borderline” i mean someone who actually shows some of the classical borderline characteristics, not someone who has been labeled as such for convenience).
aaaah, and this “nb” could bring me to a lot more comments, such as, when i have grave doubts about the wisdom of psychiatric categories such as “narcissistic”, why do i even bother to bring them up?
do i have a good answer to this? i don’t know. let me think about it.
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