A View of Therapeutic Practice
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Greg Madison Ph.D. AFBPsS UKCP, EAP, BPS, HCPC
18th August, 2008
Counselling, Psychology, Psychotherapy
Below are some views about psychotherapy. This is presented in the interests of instigating dialogue and is not meant to adequately describe my way of working to potential clients; although I think it does say something about my general approach to practice.
A philosophy of therapeutic practice
'Psychotherapy', 'Counselling', and 'Counselling Psychology', are all various terms referring to the professional practice of exploring human life experiences with the intention of helping, sometimes in unexpected and surprising ways. In many cases the various professional titles no longer indicate qualitative differences in client practice.
I believe no one is an expert on life. I suggest that when searching for a counsellor, psychologist, or therapist, that a potential client might consider shopping around, navigate with their intuition in order to find a human being that they feel they will be able to relate to, someone who is open to self-examination as well as interested in the worlds of other people. Athough the practitioner's experience, education, and credentials may be important, psychotherapy (my preferred term) is a person-to-person relationship before it is anything else. As in any relationship, client and therapist need to ask themselves, 'can I engage with this person'? I am convinced that no matter what other useful and important things are done in therapy, its effectiveness rests upon the human relationship within which everything else occurs. Research supports the importance of the relationship in psychotherapy.
For me, psychotherapy is also a dialogue of depth. I see therapy as having depth in the sense that no matter how the life problem or issue initially presents itself, it also connects to our deepest assumptions about life, and raises questions about how we should live, and what is meaningful to us. These are the kinds of questions which do not have ready conclusions, but they inspire us to contemplate together, which I believe is itself therapeutic and exciting.
I see therapy as incorporating qualities such as attentiveness, compassion, courage, and honesty. It is a challenging engagement with another person. My intention as a therapist is to be as present as possible in order to explore carefully the challenges my clients are living with.
My practice incorporates a democratic approach that accepts and welcomes those aspects of ourselves that are usually judged, exiled and ostracised, by ourselves and others. The client and I engage together in order to develop creative actions and new ways of living. We become curators of novelty, gently finding new forms for daily living.
Therapy is ideally a refuge where 'thinking' can take place. We contemplate our experiences and we think together through supportive listening. For me, 'thinking' is the ability to dwell with something that is initially confusing and unclear until it gradually reveals itself. This revelation usually brings a feeling of relief and enables new change to happen. Each person has an uniqueness that needs to be discovered gradually. We work on all levels - cognitive, emotional, and holistically, in order to achieve lasting change.
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