Friday, October 17, 2003

Choosing a Foundation.

At some point, I must choose a foundation, a philosophical approach to counseling and psychology. If I am to earn a Psy.D. or a Ph.D., it is essential, but even for a Masters degree in Family Counseling, I will need to pick one of the major theorists as my guide.

This is very difficult for me as I honestly feel that most of the major theorists had a piece of the human puzzle, not the whole puzzle picture. I believe that therapy should be approached from the perspective of giving the client what the client feels she or he needs, not what the therapist thinks she or he needs. If a client comes to me with a fear of riding in elevators, I will probably pull out behavioral and cognitive perspective tools to help. If a client comes to me with vague feelings of things not being right, then a behavioral approach isn't going to give them the answers they are looking for and I would need to find other means of helping the client- to choose a different set of tools, so to speak. Which tools would entirely depend on the client sitting in front of me. Who are they? What background do they come from, what culture, what gender, what style would best suit them, what will be the most effective way that helps the client gain the thing the client wants? I might have an idea about how I think folks should live their lives in an ideal situation, but it is never going to be my job to change folks into my ideal, but rather to help them find their ideal. So I see myself in most situations as helping the client clarify their life and goals and then helping them find what they need to create the life they want.

I firmly believe that we choose our feelings, thoughts, actions and goals in life. We make choices even by not making choices. We are either conscious of the reasons for our behavior, feelings etc. or we aren't, but we are the ones pulling the strings. We are the ones who must find or put the meaning into our lives- it is not external, except in so far as we accept or allow those choices made for us by others. I believe that we evolve over a lifetime, that personality and issues are not set only by childhood. I do think we have stages of development over our lifetime. I do think that there is a hierarchy of needs, that we are social creatures dependent to a large extent in how we see ourselves in context with others. We are all connected, even if we don't realize it and because we live in social structures those play a role in who we are and how we act. Everything is always best understood as much as possible in context with everything else. But these are my views about my life and I don't always live a perfect life in perfect understanding, only this is how I approach solving problems and understanding events.

So where does that leave me? It leaves me with a lot of theorists- an existential, social-psych, slightly analytic but individual, behavioral, cognitive, lifespan development sort of approach.. Jungian, Adlerian, Rogerian, add Frankl, Ellis, Bandura plus systems theory, don't forget Erickson and Maslow- and I don't have a single theorist to use as a foundation; I have a group of them from different perspectives. It is definitely eclectic and I will continue to add to my toolbox.

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