Saturday, April 13, 2013

Reflection on humanistic psychology

        This topic was of much interest to me.  My career plan is to be a private practice addiction counselor, and I have been in counseling for almost four years.  The counselor I see currently has me on a two year commitment to a weekly group.  From what I have noticed, he seems to take an eclectic approach to therapy.  It makes sense, since he has taken hundreds of college units over the 35+ years he’s been a counselor, that he would have a varied approach.  One of the most apparent approaches I see him take with those of us in group is to use pieces of psychoanalysis.  I have never heard him, however, speak of Freud and the Oedipus complex, Freud’s psychosexual stages, or the id, ego and superego.  What he does do, though, is link behavioral and cognitive trends in the present to our childhood.  Also, he helps us identify coping mechanisms that we unconsciously use (although not all of them are Freudian) instead of truly dealing with or accepting situations.
I see a very humanistic perspective in his methods as well.  Often, my counselor uses what I think is a form of active listening; he repeats back certain things back to people, empathizes with them, then asks questions, attempting to help them figure out the answers for themselves.  The therapy is client based, and focus is put on promoting growth.  One of the nicest things about counseling there is that the environment is genuine, accepting, and extremely empathetic.
The last big theme that I see in my counselor’s approach to therapy is the cognitive-behavioral approach.  Often, clients are given exercises to do in order to change their thinking.  One example of this is when someone in my group was struggling with her fear of intimacy.  My counselor gave her and her partner an exercise.  They had to give each other three twenty minute massages, full body, and she had to initiate.  As soon as they were done, they both were to talk about how they each felt giving and receiving the massages.  When she reported back to the group, it seemed to have worked well for her as a first step in learning to feel safe with physical intimacy.

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