Creating ground for transpersonal or universal respect is about taking tangible respect, that for self and those close by, to incrementally larger and larger circles (such as trust in nuclear families expanding to extended families. Taking action to this end can then expand into communities, nations, and ultimately grow to universal respect for all of humankind, such that the abstract “Other”—stranger or enemy—no longer exists in a way that poses a threat. To respect means moving past fear in order to embrace humanity with curiosity and confidence. Recognizing this as ideal vs. the ongoing real life situations of sometimes severely disrespectful patterns among families, communities, political factions, religions, tribes, sects, and nations (which too often lead to oppression, violent conflicts, and war), makes the case for the urgency for respect to grow.
When we consider all of the possible differences and combinations of differences there are in humanity, it can be quite overwhelming. Everything from genetics to personality traits, philosophies, beliefs, cultural mores, family backgrounds, physical and psychological attributes as well as socioeconomic and life experiences, all contribute to the vast array of differences there are between us. And yet, there remains the common thread of being human. How we approach our differences is very much up to us.
RFT postulates that we are each capable of reaching past our differences in order to fully celebrate our common humanness. Though it bears more poignantly for therapists to focus our respect most directly on our clients, it is also our obligation, as I see it, to exercise this broader scope of transpersonal respect, so that we can also demonstrate in our work a sense of multicultural understanding and social justice.
Respect-Focused Therapy (RFT) is a foundation on which all modalities and techniques used in therapy can be strongly grounded, in order to produce sound, effective outcomes. This approach offers clients the opportunity to gain experiential understanding of being respected, possibly for the first time, from the therapeutic relationship and then be able to heal old wounds by creating more respect for self and others in the therapeutic process.