Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Role of Therapist

     The role of therapist is a highly contested one.  At is inception, therapists were distant and interpretive, disallowing deep relationships (a la Freud).  The second movement was, in my opinion, less of a psychotherapeutic discipline as it was an experimental psychology doctrine.  But the behavioral method eventually rose to a direct client-based state.  Oddly, though the movement was in direct opposition to Freud's views on psychopathology, sex drives, and the unconscious, behaviorism shares the distance that Freud believed in.
     I think that Adlerian individual psychology was the bridge between the second and the third movements.  It seems to me that Adler was really trying to be a warm being in the client's life.  This could partially be due to the fact that he dealt quite often with children (as they were his main population).  Individual psychology may have even started the idea that the relationship between therapist and client is crucial.
     But, of course, Rogers's client-centered therapy is what it took for the therapist to be seen not as savior or expert (Freud) or caring doctor (Adler), but as a facilitator or helper.  It is this title that so interests me.  Other theorists have changed Rogers's view on the role of therapist slightly.
     Both Beck and Ellis of CBT fame espoused to be more structured and educator-based in their theories.  They acted in the role of expert.  They were teaching concepts for future use.  I think, to be honest, that this approach to therapist role has more to do with the type of theory that it is (teaching techniques for the future) rather than any specific plan they concocted.
     The more I practice, the more I find myself in the situation of psychoeducational technique use.  This could be due to the fact that most of my clients were in the drug and alcohol realm and that life skills teaching is a must in rehabilitation.  Due to this, I think that the role of therapist as educator and expert is important, but perhaps could be turned down so as not to discourage clients fro seeking further help.
     Changing the name of the role from teacher to tutor might reflect my views on the subject a little better.  A teacher can (and often does) talk down to a student from their high peak of knowledge.  A tutor, on the other hand, can teach and instruct, but also can have the ability to provide empathy.  A tutor works with a student, not in spite of him/her.  It is this collaboration that allows the real work to happen.  Just as a tutor can help a student with their research, a tutor approach can help a client conduct research into themselves and their behaviors.

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