NYC Psychotherapist Blog

power by WikipediaMindmap

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Strengths-Based Perspective in Psychotherapy: Looking at the Whole Person

Over the years, I've noticed that many clients, who have been in therapy before and who come to see me in my psychotherapy private practice in New York City, tend to describe themselves exclusively based on whatever psychiatric diagnosis they've been given in prior psychotherapy treatment.  The more psychotherapy they've had, the more likely they are to describe themselves based on a diagnosis from prior therapy rather than as a whole person.

A Strengths-Based Holistic Psychotherapy:  You're Not Your Diagnosis
As I've mentioned in prior blog posts, I believe it's important to look at the whole person and not look at a client only in terms of a diagnosis (see links below for my prior article on "Positive Psychotherapy - A Strengths-Based Perspective" and "Psychotherapy: You're Not Your Diagnosis").

Strength-Based Therapy: Looking at the Whole Person

Psychotherapists must use the American Psychiatric Association's DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) to obtain reimbursements from insurance companies.  

This is true whether the reimbursement goes to the client or the therapist, whether it's for in network therapy or out of network therapy.  But the diagnosis is, obviously, not the whole story about any one person.

For instance, one of my specialties is working with emotional trauma, and I've had many clients who have symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder who have demonstrated a lot of resilience and resourcefulness in their lives, despite the fact that they have had horrific experiences.  They might be starting psychotherapy because their history of trauma is getting triggered in their current life, but this does not negate the fact that they also have a lot of strengths.

Psychotherapists Should Help Clients to Recognize and Utilize the Clients' Strengths
When a psychotherapist looks at a client and a client looks at him or herself only in terms of a diagnosis, this does a great disservice to the client.

I believe one of the things that therapists should do with all clients is to help them realize that they have strengths and they have used these positive qualities to get themselves through tough times in the past.  It might not have completely resolved their emotional problems, but it has probably helped them a lot.

Recognizing Your Strengths

When clients are able to see themselves more holistically, as opposed to seeing themselves only in terms of their diagnosis, they're better able to access these qualities to help themselves.

One of the great joys I experience in my work with psychotherapy clients is seeing them be able to recognize and utilize the strengths they already have in addition to learning and developing new tools they can use to grow and live more meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you've been hesitant to start therapy because you fear being seen only in terms of a diagnosis, you could benefit from seeing a psychotherapist who has a more holistic approach.  

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

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 or email me.

Also, see my related articles:
Positive Psychotherapy: A Strengths-Based Perspective

Psychotherapy: You're Not Your Diagnosis