The Journey of the Heroic Parent invites parents to look inward for the problems and solutions to children’s issues. Heroic, because courage is required to look at oneself. Therapists must do the same to provide clients with healing. Based on attachment theory, this presentation will challenge therapists to explore their frustration, agitation, and judgements; when therapists become upset, frustrated, or anxious with clients, lose contact with them.
As a founder of several treatment programs, I have spent 23 years training and supervising clinicians. My experience is that many clinicians have little experience with supervision that considers how resistance is often exacerbated by clinicians. Therapists hide behind terms like “evidence based” to avoid their own inadequacies. They become experts at blaming the client when therapy is not going well. Therapist's models, theories, techniques, and emotional reactions can all become barriers to effective treatment.
The therapist's shame and the need to be a "good" clinician also prevent effective treatment. Counter-transference can be an effective diagnostic tool when therapists understand projective-identification defenses and when they are able to recognize personal counter-transference. Many in the therapy field account for a lack of progress in therapy as client-created and refuse to reevaluate their approach. Frustration, anger, hopelessness, anxiety, powerlessness, sadness, and many other emotional responses to clients can prevent the therapist from providing a safe container.
Therapists are not experts on their client’s lives, ought not to provide advice in major-life decisions, but should foster the development of a healthy Self. This requires that the therapist be constantly looking at their response, feelings, and relationship to the client and the client’s issues. Failure to reflect adequately can produce therapy that is abusive or at least inadequate. Many therapists respond to the defense at face value and thus contribute to the lack of progress in therapy or recovery. Research on how others respond to us and how that effects the brain is exhaustive.
1. Understand common counter-transference (CT) errors and be able to distinguish between personal and diagnostic CT.
2. Understand the many therapists increase resistance and then blame it on the client.
3. Describe supervision that helps therapists consider when they may be abusive towards clients.