NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Friday, August 31, 2012

A Strengths-Based Perspective in Psychotherapy

In recent years, many psychotherapists have become increasingly open to adopting a strengths-based perspective in psychotherapy.  This strengths-based perspective looks at not only clients' problems but also emphasizes clients' strengths and positive qualities.  

Social work has had an influence on this trend because it has a long tradition of recognizing clients' positive  aspects.  Over the years, as psychotherapists with social work background have come to dominate the psychotherapy field in NYC, psychotherapy has begun to change to reflect this positive perspective.

I believe there are many advantages to having a strengths-based perspective in psychotherapy--not least of which is that psychotherapists can help clients to develop increased self confidence as they learn to appreciate the strengths they already have.  As it is, many clients come to therapy feeling badly about themselves. Often, they can't see their many positive qualities. They dwell mostly on the negative.

A Strengths-Based Perspective in Therapy

Therapists who have a strengths-based perspective can help clients to appreciate what's right about them and not just what's wrong.

Psychotherapy's early history was one of pathologizing clients.  In recent years,  mind-body oriented psychotherapy, which includes EMDR, clinical hypnosis, and Somatic Experiencing, has emphasized helping clients to develop emotional resources as compared to only looking for pathology.  One of the best ways to help clients build emotional resources is to help them enhance the strengths they already have and might not even realize they have.  

Recognizing Strengths and Accomplishments
For instance, a client, who begins psychotherapy due to a history of trauma, might have significant accomplishments, despite longstanding trauma.  S/he might have graduated college, raised a family, and maintained gainful employment.  

Many clients don't appreciate their own resilience and ability to persevere despite adverse circumstances. They often minimize these strengths by telling themselves and others, "It wasn't such a big deal.  I just did what I had to do."  But a psychotherapist with a strengths-based perspective has the objectivity and the mindset to help a client with these strengths to appreciate and build upon these strengths.

A strengths-based perspective in psychotherapy is not a "feel good"or "Pollyanna" approach.  Therapists still need to help clients to overcome their problems and to look at how they might even be contributing to their problems.  A strengths-based perspective isn't a quick fix.  Rather, it's an even-handed, holistic approach that, I believe, in the long run, is much more beneficial to psychotherapy clients.

If you have been considering attending psychotherapy, but you've been hesitant because you fear being pathologized in therapy, I recommend that you find a psychotherapist who has a strengths-based perspective.  

Before you embark on the self exploration involved in psychotherapy, I recommend that you ask questions. Most experienced therapists expect potential clients to ask them about their psychotherapy approach in an initial consultation.  Many therapists also have websites that provide information about their particular philosophy to psychotherapy.  You have a right to be an informed consumer and to trust your instincts.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist. 

I work with individual adults and couples.  

I have helped many clients overcome obstacles so that they could lead more fulfilling lives.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me