a Resource for Clients & Therapists
2019 Tidbits & to-Do's - morsels to spark curiosity
Q -"My Self of the Therapist Supervisor often asks me to talk about my own childhood reactions to things. Is it supposed to feel like therapy?" A - "Thank you! That is a VERY good question!"
Many therapists are concerned or cautious about Self of the Therapist (SOT) exploration and crossing the boundary into a dual relationship with their supervisor becoming their therapist. This is a very valid concern.
Dr. Harry Aponte (Person of the Therapist (POTT) Model) states: “Therapy is conducted through the person of the therapist in relationship with clients. Theory and technique are applied through the humanity of the therapist, which itself needs to undergo a training experience that enables therapists to make their personal selves instrumental in the service of the therapeutic process. The goal is to achieve a degree of mastery of the self within the role of therapist.”
In order to achieve this mastery in ourselves as therapists, we consider our life story and how it may influence the treatment process, goals and interventions. Understanding relevant personal traits or family correlations between our own family of origin (FOO) and that of our client’s, as well as cultural, spiritual, gender identity, and other value systems, will enable us to develop this “mastery of the self within the role of the therapist”.
Additionally, from attachment theory, we understand that as humans, we therapists have our own survival strategies and attachment styles, and when we are threatened, these strategies come online, even with our clients.
For example, having grown up in a rather loud Irish household, and being a more quiet natured child, my tendency was to be quiet during any fighting when I was young. And so, as a newly trained therapist with a client case of loud angry fighting couples or families, wouldn’t it make sense that I would be quieter in the room with my clients, and might not always know how to intervene? (Thankfully, through many avenues in my SOT work, I have learned to engage differently with fighting clients.)
There is a process and flow to SOT supervision that I will present over the next few blogs. For now, to return to the original question, let's consider this distinction - Therapy vs. Therapeutic.
Working with SOT supervision, we are keeping a boundary to it being a therapy session by identifying and acknowledging the connection to our story, considering strategies to address personal needs (which may include a referral to therapy), and then applying this new awareness and experience of the personal connection back to the work. This is a key distinction between supervision and therapy... we bring it back to the work in SOT supervision.
In doing so, it is very therapeutic for a therapist to experience someone (or oneself) making sense of his/her own history and how it plays out in their work, thus working towards implementing a new mastery of the use of self of the therapist.
Hi and welcome to my blog! I am excited to have this endeavor underway. It has been many years in the making.