Friday, November 13, 2015

Learning to Forgive Ourselves

"Guilt's strength lies not in the failure of others to grant us forgiveness, but in our failure to forgive ourselves." -- Kelseyleigh Reber 

Nobody's perfect. We learn from a young age that everyone makes mistakes. And most of us have had to forgive someone who's hurt us, whether it was a betrayal of trust, harsh words spoken in anger, or an act of spite or disrespect. And yet, forgiving ourselves for our missteps can seem like a tougher task. Why?

The Golden Rule 
Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves, even as we provide grace to those who hurt us. Letting go of the bitterness, disappointment and pain allows us to move on, to loosen the hold the betrayal has on us. But when we are the guilty party, we may engage in severe self-shaming and -recriminations. Rarely do we afford ourselves the same leeway we do for others. Maybe we believe continuing to persecute ourselves will ensure we don't screw up again. Maybe we inflate the damage we've caused, imagining that our failings will have unending repercussions. But we fail to recognize that, in holding ourselves to a standard higher than we may others, we are assigning our actions an inflated influence on our world. Humility means owning that both our successes and our failures are on par with others'; we don't "fall" harder from our mistakes than do our counterparts, nor do we "soar" higher when we reach our goals. If we believe that no one person's worth outweighs another's, we need to treat ourselves as equal in every way, whether that's celebrating our achievements or forgiving our transgressions. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

When Fit Promotes Functioning

Therapy is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Nor does modern-day counseling share much in common with the stereotypes of a client laying on a couch, the therapist interpreting clients' dreams, or people spending decades in counseling to resolve issues. Finding the right modality of therapy and the correct clinical orientation to address different issues can help create a successful treatment experience.

Choosing the Right Therapeutic Approach 
While most types of therapy can address most any issue a client may present, some particular approaches have been proven successful for work on specific issues.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Many studies document the efficacy in mitigating anxiety and depressive symptoms using techniques like assertiveness training, rewriting negative scripts, addressing mistaken beliefs and learning coping skills.

Exposure Therapy: This approach is considered the hallmark technique to help clients overcome phobias.

Supportive Psychotherapy: Clients may choose this type of counseling when they are looking for short- or long-term support to deal with life stressors, if they are unsure of their treatment goals but enjoy the validation and support they receive from the therapeutic relationship, or see therapy akin to "working out" (i.e., as an essential, regular part of self-care.)

Insight-Oriented Psychotherapy: Usually longer in length than CBT or exposure therapy, this orientation aims at helping the client create long-lasting change through developing insight into themselves, patterns of behaviors, family of origin dynamics and unconscious processes.

Solution-Focused Therapy: This specific approach utilizes directed questions and a strong focus on client goals, rather than problems, to help clients move forward.

Eye-Movement Desensitization Response (EMDR) or Holographic Memory Resolution: Both techniques tend to be shorter-term, using as few as one to six sessions to help trauma survivors diffuse distressing memories and somatic experiences of trauma, and to provide relief from PTSD symptoms.

Many other clinical orientations are available to meet clients' individual needs.  If you are interested in pursuing individual, couples or family counseling, ask the potential therapist to educate you about their preferred approach, and whether data exists to support that philosophies' effectiveness in working on the particular issues you'd like to address.