Strength Focused in a Culture Focusing on Weaknesses

In America, highlighting weaknesses in people is a billion dollar industry. If a problem can be created, a solution can be purchased.

The focus on weakness gets perpetuated by the belief that working on weaknesses as a step toward success. This methodology is effective in sports for instance. I tend to be a slow long distance runner, so recently I have been adding intense interval running to my workout schedule. After just a few months I can feel an improvement on my long weekend trail runs.

In mental health however, constantly looking for the problem or sometimes waiting for an “official problem” can keep us from finding the way out. Furthermore, relationships are a key indicator and asset as a human. If one’s relationships are affected by the way one is thinking or perceiving, it can indicate that one’s mental emotional health needs attention.

In this context, often focusing on what is going well for a person, what has worked in the past, and what they desire in the future is an effective way to identify solutions and stop the feedback loop of looking at problems. It can be easy to get focused on the preferred past (what we would have liked to have happen) or past hurt/sadness/anxiety, which just builds the barrier toward identifying the desired future higher.

I used to be shocked by how difficult it was for some to state their wants, needs, and preferences. In other words, how hard it can be to just say what a person does want. After nine years as a practicing psychotherapist, I get it now. The deck is stacked against the practice of focusing on strengths, finding what is good, what has worked well in the past, and cultural norms bring people back to what is wrong.

A starting place for being more strengths based is a simple gratitude practice. Perhaps starting a journal or adding to your planner 3 things in the morning and 3 things in the evening you are grateful for or that went well. From there, finding more about what is going well will get easier and easier.

Curious how this might apply to your situation? Schedule a free 20 minute consultation 541-639-2986

Escape Rooms and Therapy

A friend recently told me about their experience trying out Bend Escape Room. In case you are not sure what I am talking about here is a summary of the games growing popularity.

I had two take aways from listening:

One, people are genuinely interested in spending more time with other human beings. In a world with exponential growth in technology and a variety of ways to avoid human interactions, things like Escape Rooms, outdoor sports and recreation, therapy, coaching, and shared office spaces keep growing and growing. It seems every time I hear of a potential job market becoming obsolete I hear an equal increase in these interactive spaces.

Secondly, people are searching for paths to connection. There is a shift in society from behind the computer screen to these spaces where ideas are built upon and connections form. It seems there is an underlying realization that human beings need each other. We need collaboration, cooperation, and all of the fine skills required.

Psychotherapy not only provides the skills necessary for collaboration and cooperation, it is also a space to try out those skills. After all, psychotherapy in my opinion should be an exercise in my expertise in relationships/emotional wellbeing and my client’s expertise in their own life. Therapy requires us to work collaboratively and cooperate toward a shared goal. Those skills then translate to your friends, family, and professional environments… which then translates to their friends, family, and professional environments.

It is all about connection!

autonomy

The longer I practice therapy the more passionate I become about client autonomy.

Autonomy from a sociological perspective defined by wikipedia is, “the capacity of a rational individual to make an informed, un-coerced decision.”

The foundation of my work is in reflecting back what clients present as the problem or their perspective, educating clients about what I know (typically what research says) and sharing my perspective as a professional. With these components clients will often uncover more options.

More options create a sense of autonomy. It’s the shift from this is happening to me to I am happening to it.

My goal is for clients to leave sessions feeling like their life is back in their hands, they are no longer held captive by patterns or habits, and that they are armed with information and options.