Beyond the Therapeutic Hour: It’s called Life
Beyond the Therapeutic Hour:
It’s called Life
L.T. Force, Ph.D.
As I share with both my students - and my clients: “The practice of a Psychotherapist is a reflection of that person's training and the: “lived experience of their practice”. My own personal experience is - I have been exposed to: “different schools of thought” across my clinical training. In the beginning, I aligned myself with the Behaviorists (all behavior is learned….therefore, it can be unlearned). Then as my training continued, I was exposed to the realm of Psychoanalysis (Sigmund Freud) and then the Gestalt Therapists (Kurt Lewin). As I continued my doctoral training, I was introduced to the work of William Reid - the author of the Task-Centered Approach (theme: a here-and-now approach). Armed with these theoretical perspectives, I worked in the back-units of state-run public institutions - and integrated these various schools into my practice and classroom lectures. And then I met Joel Simon, LCSW-R - who is an advocate in promoting a Solution-Focused Theoretical and Practice orientation. When Joel introduced me to the Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Approach - (with a shift in focus from "problems" to " solutions") - it was like someone opened up the windows and let fresh air in. (Solution Focused Brief Therapy Approach; www.sfbta.org). To Joel, I will be forever indebted for his enthusiasm, commitment and alignment with the Solution-Focused approach.
Fast forward to today, I practice a form of a solution-focused ‘here-and-now’ short-term approach to psychotherapy. I inform all of my clients: “I am not your hero….I can’t fix you….because you are not broken….because we all have stuff”. I also share with them, from my perspective: “the best therapist you can find…. is one you forget….because you re-engage in the ‘rhythm of your own life”.
As I share with my clients, in our first session (that I term as the “landscape-session”) - where I develop an exchange asking “who-is who”, what brought you to seek therapy and let’s take a look at patterns of behavior across your family system (3-generations)…."as all behavior occurs within a family system”.
In my therapeutic exchange - I also encourage my clients to engage in activities in-between sessions. Like Harry Stack Sullivan, another one of my favorite theorists,
(https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Harry_Stack_Sullivan ). I also believe that: “not all change occurs in the therapeutic session”. However, I am not as rigid as Sullivan recommending that in order to experience “true-change” clients should move into “Sullivan-ian Communities”. I do believe “change can occur” - even if you stay situated in your professional and personal network. However, what I do recommend is that my clients engage in not only “Session-Tasks (ST) ",i.e work or activities during the session....but also “Home-Tasks (HT)”, i.e. work or activities in-between scheduled sessions. (This work, HT and ST paradigms, are found in the theory and practice application of: “William Reid’s Task-Centered Therapy”: (https://www.socialworkdegreecenter.com/study/task-centered-practice-social-work/).
Today, technology has changed every part of our world - including the: “therapeutic-process and exchange”. As I tell my students, “there are two things you need to take into a family system when you are working with clients today….your Heart and an understanding of Technology. If you can only take in one thing….take your Heart….but you can‘t act like Technology doesn’t exist”. In following my own advice, I try to integrate as much technological support that I can….including, but not limited to: electronic records and note, a Zoom Video-Platform, IPad support (in the form of a technological note taking app called Notability: www.notability.com). Recently, I have onboarded with a text-based Mindfulness platform - that I have integrated into my Practice - called MindfulText: (www.mindfultext.com).
The MindfulText platform - utilizing a Text-based platform to train users how to learn and integrate Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Techniques into their daily lives. I really like this platform - as it provides me the opportunity to engage clients in Home-Tasks (HT) - with a focus on stress-reduction and Mindfulness Training in-between sessions.
So yes, regarding an explanation of the title “Beyond the Therapeutic Hour: It’s called Life”….as you can see….the incorporation of technology can be a useful resource and tool for both the provider and receiver of the therapeutic process and exchange .…in seamlessly linking life-patterns and events - beyond what occurs during the ”Therapeutic Hour”.….and with the advent of AI, ChatGPT and the further development of Virtual-Reality (VR) applications and Holograms….stay tuned….the delivery of the "therapeutic process and exchange" for sure - will look different and feel different on the next horizon.