Nature versus Nurture…Genetics, in combination with our life experiences and perspectives have to be taken into consideration. We all have our own view of the world and our individual life experiences will influence our unique view. Some common denominators could include experiences of loss, excitement and fear. With so many individual variables, no two people will have the exact same experience. Two people can attend the same function and come out with a totally different story.
Considering the nature and nurture theory, we come into the world with a specific genetic make up = nature, and then grow up with our family of origin = nurture and then go off and create our own family based on these experiences. As a female immigrant who has raised two children, one with autism, I have experienced life in a way that impacts me personally, as well as my therapeutic approach. My experiences have provided a specific knowledge and insight that can benefit my clients. The main skills that come most naturally to me are empathy, and the very under rated genuine listening. My empathy started as a preschooler walking around with one eye shut to see how my artistic father saw the world being blind in one eye. Growing up I often wondered about people, their life stories, and what it might be like to experience their existence.
We obviously start off different in the beginning, as the nature (genetics) part of our make up is out of our control. Our human construct can be extremely complicated. With so many variables things can be considered from many angles. For example are we born good or evil? Is a disorder a blessing or a curse? When some people are in a manic mode they can also be their most creative. When a person dissociates to cope with an over whelming trauma is that not a way to cope in the moment? Listening in a non-judgmental, empathetic way will guide a therapist in knowing what is best for their client. My main modalities of therapy are Client-centered and Solution-focused which by their titles are self explanatory. First I believe that without the client-centered therapeutic alliance, therapy is not going to work. It takes a team of trust and mutual respect of client and therapist, to work through sensitive issues. Unless there is past trauma in need of resolution, I tend to focus more on the ‘here and now’ and work on what needs to happen to presently to address any maladaptive behaviours. When people seek therapy they are usually at a point of wanting to makes changes and focusing on solutions is a productive positive approach as far as I am concerned.
The joke “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? One, but it must want to change!” is funny but also true. Psychologists do not make people change, individuals must want to make changes to better themselves. It is the psychologist’s job to support and guide clients to discover the solutions best for them in their individual circumstances. I admire people courageous enough to address, rather than avoid problems. It would be extremely egotistical to assume we had the power and control to actually change a person. Change has to come from within.
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