Last week I was observing a group therapeutic intervention in a secondary school. The project was clearly challenging and inspiring those who attended and the school had already started to notice positive change.
At a break I was speaking to the main facilitator about the approach which I compared to the theory of Transactional Analysis developed by Dr. Eric Berne. The activities planned for the day had focused around both the Parent – Adult – Child theory and “The Games We Play” approach to understanding conversations. The facilitator then told me “I don’t follow theories, I just do what works for me”.
I have been reflecting on this sentiment since. While I would agree that there are too many theories about models of helping for a practitioner to ever be fully trained in them all I do not accept that as a reason to be uninterested.
When entering the helping world there are many routes which can be explored by those who seek training and knowledge.
Do you enter as a Coach – seeking to encourage the client to set goals to achieve what they want. If so are you a life coach, a business coach, a relationship coach…
Do you enter as a Mentor – seeking to be a positive role model? If so in what way are you a role model? Have you achieved success in the area they want to go into? Have you come from a similar background? Have you got transferable skills which can help them?…
Do you enter as a Counsellor or therapist – seeking to identify the emotional blocks faced by the client? If so are you trained as a Person Centred Therapist, a Psycho-dynamic Therapist, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist? Perhaps you use the creative approaches such as Dramatherapist, Dance and Movement Therapist, Art Therapist, Music Therapist, Play Therapist…
What about hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming, mindfulness?
Praxis: Practice underpinned by Theory
There is too much theory for anyone to study all of it but that is not an excuse to become disinterested. Why reinvent the wheel when there is such a wealth of experience in the helping field. Theories and approaches continue to be proposed, developed, tested and sometimes disproved. As professionals we need to be part of that field. We need to understand the models we are using and continue to evaluate their effectiveness.
We should also be weary of a “one size fits all” approach. We may find a tool which is helpful to our clients, perhaps that tool is a magic question, perhaps it is a worksheet to explore their wheel of life, or perhaps it is a sandpit to bury their problems. Whatever the tool is that is working for you, there will be a client who it does not work for but who might benefit by using another approach.
I am a believer and advocate for life long learning. I accept I will never know it all but I want to keep on immersing myself in the field of research and development. I want to develop my own toolbox for a range of client interventions and I want to be proud that I am not just making it up but rather I am building a practice on the firm foundations of the many professionals who have gone before me and informed this work.