I believe that individuals are capable of changing their behaviors and their internal experience. Sometimes change isn’t easily accomplished. Sometimes you may need help to change in the desired direction.
Providing therapy is a balance of “leading and following”. The client knows best and is in the “driver’s seat”; however, the therapist is responsible for ensuring the work in session focuses on, in some manner, the client’s initial stated goals of the therapy. Goals can change according to what the client wants; the therapist is responsible for ensuring goals aren’t abandoned or changed counterproductively.
As with many therapists who have practiced over a number of decades, my approach in providing therapy is eclectic; meaning that over time I have learned about and utilized a number of treatment modalities from which I have synthesized my own unique approach to providing therapy. My base approach is humanistic-existential; this approach isn’t necessarily evident in session.
Perhaps my principal focus is derived from Existential-Humanistic Therapy and the humanistic psychologist James Bugental. James Frederick Thomas Bugental (December 25, 1915 – September 17, 2008) was one of the predominant theorists and advocates of the Existential-Humanistic Therapy movement. In “The Search for Authenticity” (1965), Bugental summarized the postulates of humanistic psychology, often quoted by other theorists:
- Human beings cannot be reduced to components.
- Human beings have in them a uniquely human context.
- Human consciousness includes an awareness of oneself in the context of other people.
- Human beings have choices and responsibilities.
- Human beings are intentional, they seek meaning, value and creativity.
In 1996 I had the good fortune to attend a seminar James Bugental provided to therapists in Victoria, BC. He made a profound impact on my understanding of what my role is as a therapist and he greatly informed my practice. What I remember most clearly was his advice for therapists to “play it where it lies”. To me this means to stay present and focused on the client during session rather than focus on where I think the session should be going.
I also tend to use approaches informed by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic/Psychoanalytic Therapy, and Gestalt Therapy, to name a few. Additionally, if indicated, I may work with some clients using guided imagery, dream analysis, and/or body work.
“It is time to try to bring together the chief elements of the existential-humanistic perspective on life-changing psychotherapy, as I envision it. Other psychotherapists will, of course, have points of difference, and that is as it should be. We are considering an art form, and by its very nature, all art is not to be captured by any one artist. Thus each person must, perforce, produce a masterwork, and no explanations can ease that responsibility.”