Sunday, April 12, 2009

Professional Perspective: One Therapist's View on the Client/Therapist Relationship

From time to time, I think it’s good for those of us who are healing to hear from those who are trying to help us do that. So, a new sporadic Sunday feature: ‘Professional Perspective’ begins today with a guest post by Lisa Canon M.B.A., M.H., Chairman and Founder of Holistic Health. In addition to a web site about holistic healing, Lisa also writes the blog, Holistic Counselor.

As a counselor I have chosen to focus my practice on helping people heal from relationship trauma. It has been one of the most fulfilling choices I have made thus far in my life. I am a survivor of relationship trauma myself, so I connect with my clients in a unique way. While I climbed my way out of the hole that I had dug for myself during my relationship, I realized that I needed to do the work to back fill that hole. I was fortunate to have a mentor who believed in self empowerment. She helped me through my baby steps and gave me the courage to look my dysfunctional behavior in the eye. I have continued the process over many years and use those same principles in my own practice.

My clients are people who are capable in many areas of their lives. They come for help because they are having problems in their relationships. These relationships can be with parents, siblings, friends, partners or business associates. I see myself as a guide. Someone who points them in the direction they might like to go, and offers tools to help them get there. I commit to helping them achieve their goal of healthier relationships.

When clients first arrive I tell them that this is a self help program and I expect them to do 90% of the work on their own. I explain that I will be asking them to read publications and work a program of books that will help them gain the insights they need to make the changes they want in their lives. They will be given weekly assignments, homework, that I hope they will take to heart. I explain that the more they put into the program, the more they will get out of it.

The work clients do on their own increases their ability to be self reliant and raises their self esteem. One of the most serious effects of relationship trauma is the loss of self trust. When we begin to doubt our ability to discern the truth in a situation, we are unable to decide how to protect ourselves or how to respond. Working through this program allows clients to find their inner voice and to begin to trust themselves once again. They do the work on their own at home and discuss what they learned about themselves during sessions. In this way they gradually build both self esteem and self trust.

Homework is essential to this type of program. I recommend a series of books based on my initial assessment of the clients overall health, taking into account their history of prior self help work and their personal goals. There is a book list on the homepage of my blog. In addition to books I give clients personalized assignments based on what they are learning and the barriers they are experiencing. These assignments are short but can be quite difficult emotionally as they target the basic issues that need to be faced. Clients are taught guided imagery as we practice together in sessions and are reminded to practice this extremely effective relaxation tool on their own frequently. We practice deep breathing as a part of this tool.

Spirituality is also a large part of my practice. I do not favor any particular religious practices but do encourage clients to begin to have a relationship with their higher power… whatever that may mean to them. This aspect of the program allows clients to realize that they are part of a larger world and begins to initiate the process of faith in themselves and their own higher power.


Elizabeth Stanfill said...

Hi Lisa and Michele,

This is awesome! I love the homework and guided imagery. If we could get everyone to do both, no matter where they are emotionally, we would see lives improve dramatically.

The spirituality is also very important. Sometimes we are faced with, "what is life truly about?" And spirituality practices can answer this question for many people.

Have an excellent week!


Anonymous said...

And then, give permission for all bridesmaid to decide their particular destination wedding dresses items inside that scope. Thus do not worry the separates will make your bridesmaid seem to be rough. destination wedding dresses Moreover, even within those parameter, there are actually many glorious flattering choices for every bridesmaid to choose. destination wedding dresses