26 Jan The rules of effection in counselling and psychotherapy
This blog shares my code of belief about the things that I believe help to make counselling and psychotherapy an effective ‘treatment’, for example, when we experience feeling overwhelmed or unhappy with aspects of our lives, are anxiously uncertain about the future or who we are anymore, or are struggling with loss, adjustment or general unease.
The word effection of course does not exist in the English vocabulary – I offer it here as a ‘blended word’ or ‘portmanteau’, which I frequently got into trouble for doing during my two University experiences! So, in doing so, I blend the word effect – to cause an outcome, a result, with affection – warmth, responsive, caring. For me, effection is “to produce a positive outcome together with another person through offering them genuine and unconditional acceptance at a time when it matters most”.
There are many variables that will affect whether therapy is a successful endeavour – as a service for and involving human beings we are constantly challenged by uncertainty and unknowing. This being as applicable for the therapist as it is for the person seeking help.
Here are eight things that I believe to be essential and will aid counselling and psychotherapy as a worthwhile, efficacious treatment option. Of course, I won’t be the first nor the only therapist to believe these foundations to therapy as a ‘truth’ and my words draw on the ideas and experiences of others. However, I do believe that if these foundations exist as the basis for therapy, then together with the therapist’s knowledge, skills, and attentiveness, almost anything can become possible for the person seeking help.
The eight foundations:
- A ‘connection’ between the therapist and the person seeking help is possible, and happens. I believe that you will know this within the first 10 or 15 minutes of being together.
- The person seeking help is able to acknowledge and communicate their anxious, vulnerable state – they know things in their life or the way that their life is being lived or experienced needs to change.
- The basis of the therapy is what happened to you rather than what is wrong with you. This slant in therapy and experiencing being a valued and prized ‘human being’ rather than being perceived (or perceiving the self) as a ‘broken object’, is undoubtedly fundamental to a person’s hope for change and recovery and this coming about.
- The person giving the help communicates their genuineness, their acceptance for the person seeking help, and is able to witness things from that person’s frame of reference – to momentarily ‘step into their shoes’ and know how that might feel, what being you might be like.
- The person seeking help is able to receive and experience the therapist and their intentions, as above, and allow trust and confidence in them, and the self, to build.
- The person seeking help is ‘psychologically minded’, which refers to a person’s capacity for self-examination, self-reflection, introspection and personal insight. Not necessarily crucial but nonetheless helpful. Additionally, the person seeking help needs to be patient with the process of therapy.
- The setting that therapy takes place in is safe, secure, and private. The way that the therapist works in that setting will need to promote and uphold confidentiality but be realistic of anything that might compromise this.
- The person seeking help experiences being known, heard and believed.
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