When first meeting with an individual I will sometimes present a short monologue to describe my theoretical orientation. I believe this to be useful so that the individual will understand my belief system as far as human development and how I believe that I can help them. This stems from the belief that it is important to empower who they are as much as possible for them to take an active role in their therapeutic process. I start off by stating that they are their own expert. That at no time I will know them better than they know themselves. I go on to state that they don’t automatically know themselves, that this is a learning process that will last their entire lifetime. This learning process applies to everyone.
Unfortunately, there is no where in our formalized school system that we are educated of who we are as an emotional being. In the current formalized school system our thought processing is developed and trained on how to process information logically. For example, 2+2=4, 2+2 will always equal 4. There is no where in our formalized school system that we are developed and trained how to process information on an emotional level. Therapy can help with the development and training of our emotional information processing ability.
I introduce to them that the idea that is impossible for them to hurt themselves. That they cannot make a mistake as who they are as an individual. That there is a reason for everything. But that they do not necessarily know the reason for thier specific emotion, or even their behavior. As an individual it may look like they are hurting themselves. However, if they pay attention to what they are achieving socially, they are really helping themselves as an individual. If they look at the purpose of their emotions and/or symptoms they will notice that this is a reaction to their social environment. This is where I need their help. I need their cooperation to let me know if what I am saying is correct, or how much of what I am saying is correct, or incorrect. I will explain that I will ask questions. I will also explain that there is always a reason for the question that I am asking. If they are uncomfortable in answering the question that I am asking then they are not obligated to answer. If they would like to understand the reason I am asking a specific question, I will explain the reason behind the question. Sometimes, I will not explain my rational and ask them to answer the question first. Then afterwards, I will explain where my thinking is coming from. At all times they have the right to understand my thought process. It is up to them to pick and choose what applies, and what doesn’t. I urge them to not assume that I know what I am talking about. The more they are able to inform me of what applies and what doesn’t, the more I will be able to help them understand themselves better. Therapy is a cooperative effort. A person can be in therapy for years, but if they are not honest in therapy they will walk away believing that therapy doesn’t work. The more that they are honest in therapy the more they will get out of it.
The ultimate point of therapy is to help the person gain insight into how they have, and are dealing with issues that exist within them. By understanding where, when, what, and how a person will be able to understand his or her emotional reactions. By understanding their emotions, they are not trying to change their emotions, but accept what they are experiencing emotionally, and understand the reasons behind their experience. This will provide a better understanding of themselves as individuals and their reactions to their social environment.
David LaBonte, M.A.
Marriage Family Therapist
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Over 30 years experience in the field of psychology. Working with most disorders in every category, and treating every age group. My primary focus is with helping an individual understand the reasons for their psychological symptoms, and how they prevent them from being goal oriented in there social connections. A person does the best they can at any given point in time. It is my responsibility to help them understand themselves on a deeper level. In doing so, a person will achieve knowledge of how they process information on an emotional level.
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