Self In Counselling Psychology

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The self, a diverse, multifaceted and fundamentally unclear phenomenon, none of which has engendered more ambiguity and dispute amongst psychologists. Despite the position the fundamental concept of the self holds within psychology, no single theory integrates its true meaning, making it difficult to define and in essence describe (Dewane, 2006; Hoffman, Stewart, Warren and Meek 2008). Philosophically, psychology viewed within a modernist epistemology (Hansen, 2006), postulating the idea of a single, coherent, impenetrable entity. As the prevailing method of conceptualising human behaviour between 1650 and 1950, modernism posited that true knowledge of phenomena could only be discovered through objective experience, giving rise to scientific …show more content…
Virginia Satir (2000) wrote “The person of the therapist is the center point around which successful therapy revolves” (p.25). The person of the therapist has, therefore been acknowledged as a critical tool in the provision of effective therapy (Edwards & Bess, 1998; Pieterse, Lee, Ritmeester & Collins, 2013), suggesting that his or her characteristics and behaviours are vital in determining the quality of the therapeutic relationship. This essay therefore, will critically evaluate the ‘use of self’ in counselling psychology based on the ethical, professional, and empirical literature to this topic. It will explore the ‘use of self’ within the various paradigms of counselling psychology making the case that therapist effectiveness is more important than the therapeutic method employed for client outcomes. It will explain the ‘use of self’ to therapist effectiveness, while discussing the various ways in which this concept has been defined in literature. Further to this, the importance of the therapist’s engagement within therapy in order to ethically practice the therapeutic use of self will be discussed. Finally, thoughts on the need for future research on the ‘use of self’ will be …show more content…
The psychodynamic paradigm incorporates a diverse array of theoretical and practical standpoints united by a focus on the internal dynamics of the mind and their effects on behaviour and experiencing with the aim of increasing the client’s awareness of his or her unconscious desires, feelings and impulses whilst ensuring that the therapist never reveal their self (Burton & Davey, 2003; Gillon, 2007). Psychodynamic theory promotes that human behaviour is determined by unconscious motives and that the conscious and internal interpretations of the world are systematically distorted in order to avoid emotional pain (Thomas, 1996, Gillon, 2007). Sherby (2005) argues that in order to gain acceptance of psychoanalysis as a respectable science Freud positioned the analyst as the detached observer. Freud recognised the power that the therapist could hold within the counselling relationship and maintained that in order to be successful, a therapist would have to grasp his or her personal life in such a way as to avoid becoming entangled in the personal life of the client, resulting in the neutral, non personal stance of the psychoanalyst. Carew (2009) posits that Freud emphasised the importance of the therapist being impenetrable to the client and to act as a blank screen onto which the neurosis of patients could be

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