Reflectionon Theoretical Orientation
Reflectionon Theoretical Orientation
Selectinga theoretical orientation is among the key decision that apsychotherapist has to make at one point in time. This is becausetheoretical orientation determines the professional identity of atherapist (Wolff & Auckenthaler, 2014). My theoreticalorientation is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a talkpsychotherapy approach that is used to address the maladaptivethinking patterns. Similar to other psychotherapists, I did notassociate myself with a specific theory at the beginning of mypractice. After working with a number of clients who suffered fromdifferent kinds of psychological problems, I discovered that negativethinking was a common factor. This made me believe that the CBT isthe most effective approach, since it can be used to address nearlyall cases of psychological problems that are attributed to thenegative thinking.
Thereare two key aspects of the CBT theory that motivated me to adopt mycurrent personal theoretical orientation. First, experience taught methat the desired outcome of using the CBT can be realized within ashort period compared to other theoretical perspectives. It onlydepends on how fast the therapists will be able to help the clientidentify the interaction between their thoughts, behaviors, feelings,and physiology. Therefore, CBT is a theoretical perspective of choicesince the objective of every psychotherapist is to help clientsovercome their negative thoughts and return to their normal lifewithin the shortest time possible. Secondly, the use of CBT focuseson empowerment of clients in order to help them address their ownpsychological problems, instead of providing them with a package ofsolutions. From experiences, therapy is more effective when thepsychotherapist focus on showing clients how negative thoughts affecttheir well-being and equipping them with skills that can help themovercome those thoughts on their own. This ensures that clients canaddress their psychological issues after the sessions, even in theabsence of a professional psychotherapist.
Workingat the residency was an opportunity to experiment with theassumptions that I had about the CBT theory. By assuming that I was aprofessional, I started working with a misconception that I wassupport to offer solutions to clients. However, I later realized thatan effective use of CBT requires the therapists to work with theclient, instead of working for the client. My function as atherapist was to identify the strengths of my clients and use them toadvise them on what to do. In addition, the CBT theoreticalorientation helped me play the actual roles of a therapist (includinglistening, teaching, and learning) and allow the clients to playtheir roles, such as expressing their concerns, learning, andimplementing what they learn. A positive outcome was received withina few sessions where the two parties (the therapist and the client)played their respective roles as expected. Therefore, a successfulapplication of the basic principles of CBT gave me an excitingexperience, especially when clients reported a positive change intheir thinking patterns.
Thesuccess of therapists depends on their ability to apply theirpersonal strengths to resolve the challenges that they face in theirdaily practice. The ability to comprehend the need of repetition forchange is one my greatest strength as a psychotherapist. This helpsme conceptualize my clients as individuals who have suffered fromdifferent psychological factors for sometimes, which implies thatthey cannot achieve automatic change in their thinking patterns. Ittakes time to retrain clients on how to think positively. However, Iface the challenge of self-doubt, especially when dealing withclients who are emotionally disturbed and give an expression ofhopelessness. This category of clients looks confused, which makes itdifficult for the therapists to identify the underlying cause oftheir distress. This makes it more challenging to conceptualize theirproblems in the context of their environment and determine how theirsurrounding affects their psychological wellbeing. In addition, Iexpress the feeling of sympathy to the emotionally disturbed clients.This effect of counter-transference reduces the effectiveness of thetherapeutic process.
Althoughthe CBT therapeutic orientation require the therapists to take moretime listening to the client, it is important to give feedback fromtime to time. The ability to focus on the right purpose of giving thefeedback is one of the key factors that have enhanced my success as apsychotherapist. My main purpose of giving a feedback is to benefitthe client, and not to make me look superior to my patients. Inaddition, I ensure that my feedback target perceived as well asobservable behaviors, instead of targeting individual clients. Thisprevents clients from blaming themselves for their negative thoughtsand helps them focus on real challenges. In addition, my ability toframe my feedback in a way that invites the response of the clientsensures that they also give their feedback, thus facilitating aneffective dialogue. I make my conclusion by analyzing the feedbackthat I receive from the clients.
Iuse two major strategies to address the challenges that I face in myprofession as a psychotherapist. The first strategy involvesextensive reading of the relevant materials (such as journalarticles, case studies, and blogs) that provide discussions on theapplication of CBT in counseling. Extensive reading givepsychotherapist up-to-date skills that help them overcome challengesthat emerge in the field of psychology (Chem, Chen, Chen & Wey,2013). The case studies help me understand how other fictional orreal therapists have managed to overcome the challenge ofcounter-transference. Secondly, I intend to consult experiencedpsychotherapists on the best way to deal with clients who expect tofind results without practicing the basic premises of CBT. A few ofthe clients during the in-residence expected the therapists to changetheir thinking patterns instantly, even before they could practicewhat they had learned. This is quite challenging and it is only theexperienced therapists can explain how they have been dealing withsuch cases in the past.
Thein-residence components provoked some thoughts and feelings that Idid not have before undertaking the program. For example, the programforced me to rethink the idea of repeating concepts that can helpclients achieve a gradual change in their thinking. From the feedbackreceived during the in-residence program, it is evident that someclients take too long to overcome the negative thoughts, especiallywhen they take too long before seeking the help of a psychotherapist.This creates the need to keep on repeating the concepts that can helpthem start thinking positively and making follow-ups to ensure thatthey practice the knowledge that they gain during the sessions. Inoverall, the in-residence program provided me with an opportunity toapply the skills as well as knowledge gained in the class inresolving real-life cases.
Chem,C., Chen, S., Chen, E., & Wey, S. (2013).The effects of extensivereading via E-books on tertiary level EFL students’ readingattitude, reading comprehension and vocabulary. TheTurkish Online Journal of Educational Technology,12 (2), 303-312.
Wolff,S. & Auckenthaler, A. (2014). Process of therapeutic orientationdevelopment in CBT trainees: What internal processes dopsychotherapists in training undergo as they integrate? Journalof Psychotherapy Integration,24 (3), 223-237.