Saturday, August 8, 2015

Strategies to Change

     We must ask ourselves as therapists when change occurs. Obviously this depends on the client and their situation, but in general the question still stands. Specifically, I would like to focus on a topic I brought up in my previous rant: What is the main point that a client "chooses" to change? Is it after a particularly involved stratagem by the therapist pays off or is it when the client has cast off all of his or her baggage and has become receptive to change? The answer is an obvious "both."
     My personal opinion on the first choice is somewhat bold: I am not a big fan of using "strategies," Sure, that unto itself could be seen as a strategy. But I think more what I am trying to say here is that I don't necessarily think that one strategy provides an "aha!" moment for the client. Very experienced therapists can set up a scaffolding of doubt in the current behavior/thought structure/motivation and subtly provide hints as to better possibilities to be used in the future. This can be a course of action that is enacted over weeks, months, or years, but it is not he one that can be executed on one minute in one session. The idea that one strategy is some kind of magic spell that will allow the client to change is silly; this is especially true for "shock clinicians" who employ tactics used mainly to surprise their intended victims into change. This won't work and will definitely not head to long-term change.
     That being said, the use of properly-timed strategies can be invaluable to a clinician. When the client is ready for change - meaning that a lot of work has been done to help facilitate it - then I think it is absolutely possible for a single intervention to produce an "aha!" moment. It is important for me to note here that that is not where the therapy should end. Clients frequently need help figuring out their plans for change and learn to monitor their own needs to help facilitate it. So, in the end, such magical intention with many therapists is not a valid way of practicing: one successful intervention will not sustain a client's own personal growth forever!
     The second choice has more to do with the client's entrance into therapy - their "casting-off" of surface-based problems, and, when this venting/complaining stage is through, engaging in real, meaningful therapy that will allow them to overcome challenges in their lives. To some degree, this must happen before the first choice may occur. That being said, this stage or choice will build much trust between client and clinician.

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