The whole idea of having choice can be wonderful, but scary at the same time. This is due to the fact that the results of making bad choices can potentially produce unwanted, if not devastating results.
Many, if not all people who seek counseling are somehow caught up in this very dilemma. Choices made in their past or current lives often have had some demoralizing effects— a bad divorce, financial loss, a series of broken relationships, or bad choices made by parents and grandparents before them, being replicated if not complicated in current circumstances.
The affect of one misstep leading to another can create a pattern of mistakes and more distrust as well as anticipation and prophesy of more bad decisions in the future. This cascade of negative events can become overwhelming, eventually defining one’s identity and future without meaningful direction.
Our job as therapists is not about minimizing these realities of our clients’ current situations, but to gently and respectfully suggest that we all have choice about being driven by fear or by courage and hope. Fear alone tends to only make things worse. When afraid, we tend to isolate and not trust, behavior which motivates anger and leads to more stress, depression, and anxiety, often turning into harmful, if not aggressive actions toward self or others.
Finding and making better choices is frequently a difficult process, because this requires a paradigm shift in restructuring one’s belief system, including the ability to find compassion as well as genuine respect for yourself and then for others. Choosing to not be the victim of hard times means choosing to “think outside the box,” to be open to more possibilities. To find real and permanent value in yourself—not measured by exterior standards—and then to dare to extend the same to others, is to live more boldly and completely.
Most importantly, I believe in the notion that each human being is in fact an integral part of the larger world. Just as a village affects a family, which in turn affects a child, so does the wellbeing of each person alive affect the sustaining value of the larger systems in which that person exists. As therapists, are more able to introduce as well as help maintain the important role of deep, authentic respect for humanity, we assist to insure a heather world in which we all can live.
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.