“Maybe Someday We’ll Figure All This Out”

– title was taken from the lyric of ‘Someday’ by Rob Thomas, songwriter and lead singer of Matchbox Twenty –

Image from robthomasmusic.com

Everyday I deal with my clients, at the hospital or at University clinic. Sometimes I deal with the usual stress problems, such as: low academic achievements, a child who doesn’t want to go to school, a teenager with low self-confidence and many more. But, I also deal with many ‘hard cases’ too, such as: anorexia nervosa, oppositional defiant disorder, marriage problems or homosexual relationships.

Everytime they start to tell their side of stories, I started to build the setting and the characters in my mind. With every add up from them, I could see the picture in my mind also adding up to a better level. The conflicts, the way of thinking, the feeling and the wishes are all there – disconnected to each other and waiting to be connected. I guess that is what psychologist or therapist are doing – seeing the connections and make the clients realized how they connected to each other.

Many times during the sessions, I would love to tell them: “… someday, we will figure all this out!” … But when is ‘someday’ actually? We never know. It’s true that a psychologist needs to predict how many sessions that a client will need to overcome their problems, but in reality, client comes with one particular problem – and end up knowing that particular problem is just the effect of something bigger. Brief therapy will not work for this kind of case. Then I will need to dig deep … so, I don’t know for sure when is that ‘someday’ comes.

Of course, during the sessions, some clients show significant changes toward positivity. They got the insight, learn to apply it to their current problems and then generalize the skills to overcome other problems too. Not too many clients are able to enable themselves – but this is what I’ve been trying to do: enable my clients to enable themselves.

Way to go, psychologists … Learn daily and update yourself at all times! Someday, we will figure all this out …

Sandtray Therapy with Dr Bart Begalka

Sandtray Therapy is a not a new concept of having integrative intervention based on available theory. The classical Sandtray therapy is based on Jungian theory, so you will find anima, symbolic items and all those psychodynamics terms – which is fun!

I registered for a-14-hour of Sandtray Therapy training with Dr Bart Begalka from Trinity Western University, Canada. He is known as child therapist for so many years and he uses Sandtray as one of many approaches for his therapy sessions.

Animals figure inside the sandtray

The training was held by Soegijapranata Catholic University at Semarang. We learned on how to interpret the symbols used by our clients, the placement, the time needed to arrange everything inside the sandtray (or outside?) and how to relate that picture with past and current condition of our clients, and also the wishes deep down.

Even though it looks like children play therapy, but it can be used for adults. It can help those adults who has difficulties with unresolved childhood trauma or repressed emotions. It can also be used to resolve conflicts between two individuals, husband-wife, parent-child or siblings.

When Bart interpreted my sandtray

The modern Sandtray Therapy does not really have rules, as in classical Jungian Sandtray Therapy. Bart even said that there is no rules in this therapy, except for those procedural steps. This therapy is really one of those projective therapy that can be used for many emotional problems in childhood through adulthood.

Thanks to my ex-classmate at Airlangga University who were there together to attend at the training and proved to me that friendship is something valuable.

with Dr Bart Begalka

Reality Therapy (4)

-Last article about the therapies used by David Goodwin-

This therapy was developed by William Glasser. It concentrates on the present state of the clients and not merely focusing on the past. Counselor believes that client (even when your client is a child) can control their behaviors and the actions that they take. There is 3R important points: client needs to face the reality and have a responsibility to control their behavior and understand whether it is right or wrong.

Clients need to understand the reality that they are facing and what kind of actions that they have now. It is focusing on the present behaviors. Clients also need to understand the effects or outcomes that may affect themselves and/or others by doing that behaviors. At the end, clients have to ‘judge’ whether their actions are right or wrong. This judgment have to be done by the clients themselves, not by the counselor, because this therapy avoid criticizing, blaming and/or complaining.

What is to do next? Planning a possible behaviors.

Clients need to learn on how to make choices for themselves. Choices are made with consideration on -once again- the effects and the possibility of doing it. By knowing the effects of their behaviors, clients will learn to consider about the future actions taken. They will not make careless or emotional actions, because now they know the effects of that behaviors. By knowing the possibility of doing future action, clients will understand that they can help themselves and they need to be patient in doing so.

This approach is one of the cognitive approach in psychotherapy, because clients have to think what is best for themselves.

Rational-Emotive Therapy (2)

Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) is one big step made by Albert Ellis. The main cause of human problem is not on the events that they have to get through, but on HOW they decide to act upon it. The past is not important anymore. The focus is on the present and how it can affect our future. Our thoughts and emotional feelings can bring our future down… or it can bring us up! It’s a choice …

We really have no absolute control upon what is happening around us, but we have a power to control our thoughts about this world. That thought will determine on how we react during hard times in our lives. When we believe something irrational in our daily lives, then it will affect our behavior. For example: avoiding a black cat when we cross a street, or knock on the wood for 3 times whenever we hear or say something terrible.

In therapeutic setting, RET is one of the therapy that counter the negative thought of clients. It is confrontational. At first, counselor is detecting the irrational belief as the cause of client’s problems. Whenever counselor get it, it is important to challenge such negative thoughts and refuse it!

The therapy works with 3 main methods: FACE – TRACE – REPLACE

RET teaches clients to face the irrational thoughts that they have and be responsible for the consequences and trying hard to replace such negative thoughts. It means that clients have their full responsibility to control what is going on inside their heads. They can stop their irrational thoughts when it comes and replace that thoughts with something positive.

For example: in a case of a little girl who had been a victim of verbal abuse by his father. This little girl is having problems with her self-esteem, because she used to believed that she has no positive points in her life. She used to believe whatever her father said to her, that she is just a girl who can’t do anything well and will have no use in the future. David Goodwin taught her on how to replace such thoughts. Whenever that little girl starts to relieving his father’s label upon her, she will replace that thoughts with the word of God. For you, who are not a religious-based counselor, you can teach your clients to replace such negative thought with positive thought about themselves.

Another lesson learned!

Listening with Heart (1)

The title above is the key point of client-centered therapy. It is true, that the most important thing to do as a counselor is to be able to listen. Not just with our ears, but with our hearts. By listening to the problems that our clients have, they will feel that we respect them and we really want to help them. When we just ‘hear’ to what they say, then we won’t be able to grasp the essence of their problems. No wonder, we won’t be able to help them.

In client-centered therapy, the center of the therapy is the client. We listen to what they say. We clarify if we want to make sure that we understand of what they are saying. We do not interrupt. We do not guess of what they will say or do. We don not judge, whatever they say. We listen to them ….

David Goodwin, in one of his classes, said that client-centered therapy is his best tool, to gain information from clients, no matter how old or how young is his client. He always made a big step of understanding his client’s problems with this approach. Client-centered therapy is a part of humanistic view, which believe that human have their own positive sides and deserve to get some help, a pair of ears to listen and -above all- a heart to support them.

He believes that when we really listen to what clients say, they will be willing to open up everything in front of us, because they desperate to get some help. Children may refuse to talk because they have been rejected by adults who ‘think they know’ what those children feel or think. Adults usually avoid asking questions, because they think ‘they know’ everything about their children. It is wrong, parents! We never know how our children feel, unless they make their statement in front of us. And, in order to get that, you should ask questions. Be careful not to cross their privacy area though…

Oh, don’t forget to remind yourself, that whatever information that you have regarding your clients, it’s a secret, not gossip materials. It should be save in your hands!

Whenever David thinks that he has all the information that he needs, he will move into other therapies: behavioral, reality therapy and rational-emotive therapy. In each therapy, he will pick the best way to help each client and, sometimes, custom-made the most possible and positive way to help the client out.

I will talk more about the other therapies on my next articles.