In Jacquelyn Small’s book “Becoming Naturally Therapeutic: A Return to the True Essence of Helping,” I explored what it takes to be a genuinely helpful counselor. Although I do not intend to pursue a career in counseling, her book touches on various topics that may be used by all individuals. Small provides her readers with a check-list of characteristic ranging from empathy to respect to self-actualization that are virtually essential to becoming therapeutic.
The book begins by stating that “ordinary people” offer better therapeutic help than professionals. In a sense, this fact was surprising because you would think that trained professional would be better equipped to counsel people. However, there are a various reasons why the
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“Toxic relating” is proper term used to describe the confusion between the helper and the patient. In this situation, we often assume the role of preacher, judge, teacher, or savior. “Preachers” use a moralist approach in which he/she becomes overly concerned with right and wrong. “Judges” are less moralistic and more logical. They sound confident in their knowledge. “Teachers” lean toward the tendency to want to properly train their patients in order to prevent repetition of the problem. “Saviors” feel the need to quickly fix everything. They also need to feel as if they are needed. Despite all the roles, we can only be therapeutic listeners if the other person is being natural and sincere and safe in our hands.
Small considers the human Heart to be the only place where truth can be found. It is referred to as “the portal or gateway to a higher reality, a more extended state of consciousness” (16). Counseling from the heart is crucial because it requires us to dismiss all our personal issues and simply be there for the other person. Only then will the individual be willing and ready to offer real help. Furthermore, listening from the heart enables us to speak and accept the truth. Therapy is described as an art rather than a skill. Aside from the usage of our heart, there are ten characteristics that add to the effectiveness of being a therapeutic person. The characteristics are empathy, genuineness, respect, self-disclosure, warmth, immediacy, concreteness,