“It is better to bend the theory to the needs of the client, than to bend the client to the needs of the theory”
My first priority a a counsellor is to establish a warm, trusting, and empathetic relationship with you. Without this as a foundation from which to build, no specific technique or strategy will do much good! The keys to building a trusting relationship are different from person to person, but I’ve found that genuineness, accountability, and a non-judgmental attitude are good places to start, and I strive to embrace these values in every session.
I believe that you are the expert on your life, and it is my job to walk beside, not in front of you on the journey to change. Even when everything seems to be going wrong, I wholeheartedly believe that you are doing the best you can, and that you already have the strengths you need somewhere within you, though they may be lost.
My integrated approach as a therapist draws from several schools of thought, namely Person-Centered Therapy, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, Emotion-Focused Therapy, and Narrative Therapy.
Person-Centered Therapy places greatest emphasis on creating a strong and trusting relationship between the client and counsellor, and assumes that this relationship itself is what leads to change in clients. As a person-centered therapist I assume that people are fundamentally good and grow in natural and healthy ways if given the right conditions. Creating those conditions is a central goal of counselling, and empathy, genuineness, unconditional positive regard are the fundamental “tools” used in sessions.
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) focuses on the relationship we all have between our thoughts (cognitions), our feelings, and our actions (behaviours). CBT’s greatest strength is in the emphasis it places on our thoughts, and how certain thinking patterns lead to problematic emotions and actions. CBT is one of the most scientifically supported treatments for many common complaints in counselling. With many CBT strategies, making changes in thoughts or actions is the central goal, which often leads to changes in emotions.
Similarly to CBT, Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT) places great importance on the relationship between ourselves and our thoughts, actions, and feelings. EFT views emotions as agents of change in and of themselves, however. As an emotion-focused therapist I view emotions as necessary and helpful elements of counselling, and often use strategies specifically designed to increase or decrease certain emotions in session.
Narrative therapy emphasizes context and using new or different perspectives to gain insights into our lives (a process often referred to as “re-authoring”). I find techniques from Narrative Therapy to be of great help to clients discussing life transitions or career changes.