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perspective

3 Core Conditions for Therapeutic Change

The person-centered counseling approach was established in the 1940’s by humanistic psychologist, Carl Rogers. The goal of a person-centered therapy is to create the necessary conditions for clients to engage in meaningful self-exploration of their feelings, beliefs, behavior, and worldview, and to assist clients in their growth process, enabling them to cope with current and future problems.

A major concept of this approach is that people are generally trustworthy, resourceful, capable of self-understanding and self-direction, able to make constructive changes, and able to live effective and productive lives. Another key concept is that the attitudes and characteristics of the therapist, and the quality of the client-therapist relationship are prime determinants of the outcome of the therapeutic process.

Rogers maintains that therapists must have three attributes to create a growth-promoting climate in which individuals can move forward and become capable of becoming their true self: (1) congruence (genuineness or realness), (2) unconditional positive regard (acceptance and caring), and (3) accurate empathic understanding (an ability to deeply grasp the subjective world of another person).

1. CONGRUENCE (GENUINENESS)
Congruence refers to the therapist being real, authentic, and genuine with their clients. It’s called congruence because their inner experience and outward expression match. In being authentic, the therapist shows they are trustworthy, which helps in building a good therapeutic relationship with the client. It also serves as a model for clients, encouraging them to be their true selves, expressing their thoughts and feelings, without any sort of false front.

2. UNCONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD and ACCEPTANCE
Unconditional positive regard means the therapist genuinely cares for their clients and does not evaluate or judge their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors as good or bad. Each client is accepted and valued for who they are, as they are, without stipulation. Clients need not fear judgment or rejection from the therapist.

3. ACCURATE EMPATHIC UNDERSTANDING
Accurate empathic understanding means that the therapist understands their client’s experience and feelings in an accurate and compassionate way. The therapist recognizes that each client’s experience is subjective and therefore strives to see things from the client’s unique perspective. An important part of accurate empathic understanding is for the therapist to convey that they “get it” by reflecting the client’s experience back to them. This encourages clients to become more reflective with themselves, which allows for greater understanding of themselves.

If you’ve ever had an experience where you felt like someone just really got you…they completely understood where you were coming from, or could truly relate to the way you felt – that’s accurate empathic understanding.

Rogers asserts that empathy helps clients (1) pay attention and value their experiencing; (2) see earlier experiences in new ways; (3) modify their perceptions of themselves, others, and the world; and (4) increase their confidence in making choices and pursuing a course of action. Jeanne Watson (2002) states that 60 years of research has consistently demonstrated that empathy is the most powerful determinant of client progress in therapy. She puts it this way:

“Therapists need to be able to be responsively attuned to their clients and to understand them emotionally as well as cognitively. When empathy is operating on all three levels – interpersonal, cognitive, and affective – it is one of the most powerful tools therapists have at their disposal.”

 

References:
1. Watson, J. C. (2002). Re-visioning empathy. In D. J. Cain (Ed.), Humanistic psychotherapies: Handbook of research and practice (pp. 445-471). American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.
2. Corey, Gerald. Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. Belmont. Thomas Learning, Inc. 2005.

It’s All About Balance

I am always preaching “balance” to my clients. 

Whether it’s in regards to having a good balance between your work and personal life
Balance in having structure, but with flexibility
Even in one’s personality having a balance between extroversion and introversion.

It’s important to have balance within character traits, as well.
Such as finding the right balance between confidence and humility.
Between passivity and assertiveness.
Between delicacy and strength.

Todd Stocker (writer, speaker, pastor) says, “To live a more balanced life, glance at the past, live in the present, and focus on the future.”

There is much wisdom in having this balanced perspective on life.  If you focus too much on the past, you might get stuck in it.  However, if you focus too much on the future, you risk feeling anxious about what’s coming.  The best approach is to live in the present.  Process and work through the past, and plan for the future, but LIVE in the present.

It’s all about balance.

When in doubt: SEEK BALANCE!

Perfectionism as a Roadblock to Productivity – James Ulrich

Perfectionism as a Roadblock to Productivity by James Ulrich
The truth behind the personality trait
Published on September 26, 2013 by James Ullrich, M.A. LMHCA in The Modern Time Crunch

Far from being a motivator for productivityperfectionism (or more precisely, the byproducts of it) can be a debilitating pattern that inhibits healthy functioning.

Though it’s driven many of the great feats of art, science, and sports, it has driven many others to distraction and led to significant problems with beginning and finishing projects. One of the main roadblocks to productivity created by perfectionists is a tendency to procrastinate.

While procrastination is often confused with plain laziness, sometimes it is the byproduct of perfectionism. The daunting nature of the unrealistic goal of perfection can be so intimidating that it leads to a crippling fear of beginning. This is particularly true when one’s self-esteem is closely tied into (or contingent) upon success.

This tendency for perfectionists to yoke their sense of worth to the success of a project can be a prime driver of procrastination. It’s that fear of failure (and the ego-crushing that would inevitably result) that is powerful motivation for avoiding the situation altogether.

Falling short of an unreasonable goal too many times can lead to a sort of learned helplessness, i.e. “no matter what I do, it’s never quite good enough.” Disempowerment follows, which is another significant nail in the coffin of productivity—not perfectionism per se.

The best way to fight this self-reinforcing pattern of negativity is, of course, to water down the perfectionism and thus its unwelcome side effects. How? It’s simple: First, try beginning any project with a good-enough plan and a good-enough skill set. Remind yourself that you can always adjust your plan as you go along, and that you can always find a work-around or draft in help when you’re in over your head.

The important thing is beginning, taking the first steps of the journey. Only then you can develop momentum that can carry you along. Remember the Newtonian gravity rule that, “an object at rest tends to stay at rest”. This can help break through the icy barrier of anxiety that causes procrastination.

Second, decouple your performance from your sense of self-worth. One is not dependent on the other, and punishing yourself for failing to meet an unrealistic goal is simply counterproductive. Talking yourself into a very negative self-image as you castigate yourself is dangerous. Take a more holistic view of yourself and your role in life. Perspective is the key.

This is all easier said than done, and therapy can help.

With these initial steps, you can begin to better manage the anxiety and insecurity issues that drive procrastination and negative self-esteem, the insidious byproducts of perfectionism.