People enter treatment with wide-ranging concepts about psychotherapy. These concepts vary from the notion that the psychotherapist is going to somehow “fix me” to more elaborate ideas associated with undefined, unexplained, highly complicated, magical events known only to the psychotherapist. Neither of these concepts is true.
The basic concept of psychotherapy is that of a relationship between two people (client-therapist relationship) working together in a therapeutic process. This therapeutic process includes specific clinical procedures carefully selected to maximize the client’s true God given potentials. Listed below are some, but not all, of the different clinical procedures used in the diagnosis and treatment of the substance use disordered population: 1) Behavioral Therapy (BT); 2) Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT); 3) Cognitive Therapy (CT); 4) Gestalt Therapy (GT); and 5) Self Psychology Therapy. Behavioral Therapy is directed more at teaching the client life skills in managing day to day life circumstances. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Therapy and Gestalt Therapy are all insight oriented therapies based on emphasizing and changing clients’ negative thoughts and maladaptive behaviors. Self-Psychology Therapy identifies the client’s childhood blocks and provides the client with the therapeutic environment needed to work through emotional losses associated with respective childhood blocks. This is referred to as remediation of the deficit.
There are no perfect families or perfect parents. Every family has some dysfunction and every human has some unmet emotional need. This in no way implies that all people and families with dysfunction are bad otherwise the entire planet would possess nothing but bad people. In fact, quite the opposite is true. “All creation consists of a dance of opposites. This means that everyone has a dark side and a light side. If a person embraces only the light side and denies the dark side they cannot fully join the dance of life.” (Heider, John. The Tao of Daily Living. Palm Bay, FL: Process Pub., 2000. 97. Print.)
“A persons’ dark side consists of emotional parts that people would rather keep hidden away. The dark side behaviors are known as the disowned parts of a persons’ personality. The disowned parts do not die. They fester in darkness. They watch and wait for the chance to leap out and take control of a persons’ life when least expected.” (Heider, John. The Tao of Daily Living. Palm Bay, FL: Process Pub., 2000. 97. Print.)
The concept associated with most insight oriented theories of psychotherapy is to identify the disowned personality parts and own them the same as one owns the light side personality parts. Once a person identifies and owns the disowned parts, the dark side parts, then the dark side becomes an ally and less eager to do harm.
Every human develops blocks as they grow up. These blocks are better known as unmet emotional needs with corresponding ego defenses. It is nature’s way to allow people to block experiences they cannot accept. Thanks to our ability to block, people may, for a time, no longer feel their agony. Ego defenses are friends, not enemies. Every defense is an ability which serves to protect us. Without them people may have been destroyed. But every defense also has a cost. As long as a person (client) defends against the truth they diminish their ability to see reality. As clients begin to recover from their childhood losses they begin to heal themselves. In order to heal one must confront the truth about who they are. The path is hard and sometimes painful. But better the pain of life than the pain of living a lie.
Once a person embraces psychotherapy and begins to heal they start to feel good (worthy or whole). When people are whole, they naturally seek growth. Realizing one’s potential feels good. When people are growing, moments of self-transcendence occur naturally. Such epiphanies give one a taste of pure enlightenment.
When wholeness has been damaged or thwarted for many years, clients may feel more at home being blocked, in pain or diseased. Even when a client feels blocked deep down they carry memories of health. These memories can become allies in the clients struggle to come alive. Knowledge of health is inborn. A ‘self-actualizing instinct’ is our birthright.
“The work of recovery is a Way of Life, an ongoing commitment to consciousness, truth, and living in process. The goal of the work is not happiness. Neither is it a matter of getting fixed or cured. Life is unfixable. Instead we are invited to be fully present, sunny days and storm, joy and grief. We learn to value the never-ending encounter with what’s happening in the here-and-now.” (Heider, John. The Tao of Daily Living. Palm Bay, FL: Process Pub., 2000. 95. Print.)
Prepared and presented by,
Michael C. Hartman, LCSW, CAP
Seastone of Delray