a Resource for Clients & Therapists
2019 Tidbits & to-Do's - morsels to spark curiosity
Before moving on to Phase 2, let's check-in on a few key questions for the first phase.
What is emerging for you as you consider your emotions, thoughts and behaviors as a therapist?
Considering a case that you are challenged by, what are your key moves? What is your go-to for dealing with the tough spots?
When reflecting on your experiences as a therapist, also consider what these might be like:
* sitting with a highly anxious person
* sitting with a very angry person
* experiencing contained fury in a withdrawn client
* working with a withdrawn, shut down individual
* a client being angry at YOU
Some of the greatest benefits of Self of Therapist work is to better know yourself in the process of being a therapist, addressing items that might be unresolved in your own story, and then learning how the knowledge and new experience around your own issues can actually benefit you, as opposed to simply blocking you, in the process.
As I consider the evolution I have been through in becoming a therapist, what I have grown to appreciate most of all is how deeply I experience the energy of emotions. I believe the term for this type of individual is "Empath". My body experiences the energy in a very deep, felt way. As I work with other therapists, I am finding more and more of us have this somatic experience in our work. I believe this can be both powerfully helpful, and powerfully exhausting and debilitating for a therapist.
Self-care is such an important part of being a therapist. Please consider, how do you take care of yourself in your work, and your life? How do you rejuvenate and replenish? My self-care go-tos come in many forms: exercise, reading, writing poetry, hanging out with my sons watching GOT, just to name a few.
Next Up ~ I am heading out of town to a conference the week of September 25, therefore, the next posting, Phase 2 ~ Exploration and Expression, will be introduced the following week, the week of October 2. Please enjoy this time to reflect on the initial phase of this process!
Once the therapist has gotten a sense of his/her side of the relationship, the therapist can explore the interaction and interdependence with the client. Oftentimes, what’s happening in the client may be the catalyst for exploring the therapist’s side. Regardless of where it begins, just like with our clients, we can track a pattern of interaction.
Questions to explore – interdependence:
These questions take last week’s inquiry and look at the interdependent cycling back. When B is impacted and reacts, how it will then impact A.
To better illustrate this, let me tell you about a case I had a number of years ago where I was in a fascinating dynamic with the couple, specifically with the male partner. I presented this case at my 2013 presentation. The videotape of the session showed this cycling full-on. I will try to do it justice verbally.
Sam and Sally, young 30-somethings, were making headway in treatment. Sally was sharing an important fear that she experiences. While she was trying to express this, Sam kept interrupting her. Initially, I asked Sam to pause and wait her out. He would pause for a moment, and then a few minutes later would attempt to interrupt Sally again. I continued to ask him to give her space to explore; however, he continued to pause and then interrupt. The more I asked him to pause, the more frustrated he became. The more frustrated he became and interrupted her, the more I became frustrated and asked him to pause. Eventually he was so frustrated, he stood up and began pacing the room.
Using the above exercise, I felt frustrated (feeling) with the client, I started thinking “he isn’t listening to her, or me (thoughts), and I kept interrupting him (action) to get him to stop interrupting her.
As he was interrupted, he probably felt dismissed and frustrated (feelings) with me, may have started thinking that I don’t care or his thoughts/needs don’t matter (thoughts), and he kept interrupting, and eventually began pacing (action).
The more he interrupted, the more I paused him. The more I paused him, the more he interrupted. And so on, and so on. The more and more this happened, the more out of attunement we became, getting further from each other’s understanding.
In a future post, I will explain what this was all about for me and for him. For the moment, just notice the interdependence and pattern.
Reading Reflection: Consider your cases and explore possible interdependent patterns. Map out the pattern in your journal; share any relevant experiences you notice. I welcome questions for clarity at all times.
Next Up ~ Phase 2 - Exploration and Expression of Self
In Phase 1 of the A-E-I Framework, the emphasis is on creating awareness and insight regarding the therapist’s experience in the treatment process, including his/her experience of the client, the treatment, and the outcomes of treatment. Additionally, the therapist’s successes and struggles in work are explored, leaning into the positive affect and resourcing, as well as the blocks and challenges the therapist experiences.
Many different resources can be utilized to increase awareness for the therapist, such as an Attachment Style Questionnaire, or producing an Attachment Style Genogram of the therapist’s family of origin (focusing on the attachment strategies of members and how the therapist’s own attachment strategies were developed). Additionally, exploration is made with attention to identifying thoughts, feelings and behaviors of the therapist. A therapist will be exploring his/ her personal action tendencies as they pertain to moments during the treatment process and clarifying a normative behavior along the four quadrants of attachment (secure, insecure-anxious, insecure-avoidant, insecure-disorganized). For more information on attachment theory, google John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth.
As the attachment style is uncovered as it presents in the work, the therapist can explore unmet attachment needs, as well as connections to the therapist’s own story, including values, moral compass, religious ideation, political beliefs, etc. (moving into phase 2).
Summary of key components:
For consideration, these elements are kept in mind throughout this process:
Reading Reflection: Consider the following questions ~ Awareness of Self. Note in your personal journal. Please share in Comments to the degree you are comfortable.
Next Up: Awareness and Acceptance of Self ~ Post #2 of 2 – Interdependence, Case Example
Hi and welcome to my blog! I am excited to have this endeavor underway. It has been many years in the making.