Harlene Anderson has spoken of Collaborative Therapy as “a mutual, participatory process of conversation. It values, invites and incorporates the client’s perspective of what is important to him or her in daily life… and works with the clients resiliency and desire for healthy, successful relationships and quality of life” and although I do not practice Collaborative Therapy as a discipline, I embrace these principles as expressed by her.
In my experience, it seems many of us present with elements of ‘dysfunction’; that it is the human condition to be somewhat flawed, imperfect, damaged or messed-up. Our ‘dysfunction’ can often be exposed (to ourselves and others) at points of change; what I refer to as ‘growing pains’ (this is not reserved for childhood; us adults can also undergo mild, moderate and sever growing pains). Change, be it Lifestage, career, illness, death of a loved one, relocation/moving or trauma to name a few, can commonly be a very uncomfortable and unsettling experience, even when we ourselves have created the change. Within this is the opportunity to move away from labelling many of the non-pathological psychological experiences as something to be avoided and rather to be experienced, faced, or acknowledged in order to heal and live lives of richness and meaning. As a counselling psychologist my expertise, and therefore what I bring to the collaboration, is around supporting the individual in their therapeutic process rather than diagnosing and treating pathology. Psychological support can take many forms, such as:
- holding a safe space (free of judgement, criticism, and reprisal) for my client to talk about and unpack areas of their life that are causing distress; in other words, to listen with empathy and compassion
- psycho-educational; meaning that there may be a need to normalise the experience, to give direction or to educate my client with relevant psychological theory; in other words, to teach with kindness and consideration
- co-crafting; this is about the discovery of meaning, reframing or solution that results from our collaborative conversation
- wondering; I am curious about my client and their life and my curiosity can often spur their own curiosity about their life
I am passionate about working with adults and in particular the Baby Boomers, as they journey through their lives. We work with the problems that can be encountered in day to day experiences and issues that result from Lifestage transitions. Many of these problems and issues can result in the ‘dysfunction’; feelings of depression, anxiety, apathy, disconnection, pointlessness, fear, stuck-ness, meaninglessness, out-of-control-ness and/or vulnerability. This work can also be a wander through questions, growing pains, and wonderings about life, love and everything else psychologically related.