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082 – Taking Risks in Therapy

082 – Effective Study – Taking Risks in Therapy – Faith: Internal or External Locus of Evaluation?

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In episode 82 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast, Ken Kelly and Rory Lees-Oakes offer tips on how to study effectively. ‘Practice Matters’ addresses the difficult issue of taking risks in therapy. Last, the presenters discuss faith and religion, and whether these stem from an external or internal locus of evaluation.

Effective Study (starts at 1.35 mins)

In this first segment of the podcast, Ken and Rory offer a number of tips on how to study effectively:

  • Research has shown that writing something down by hand helps you retain the information better than typing it on a computer etc.
  • In particular, ‘cheat sheets’ (summaries of useful information – e.g. a list of key terms in person-centred theory, with short definitions of these) can be really useful.
  • Another effective tool is flashcards – you can just use plain postcards or index cards, and write a key term on one side and the definition on the other. You can then either test yourself or use them as the basis for a game with one of your peers.
  • If you are an auditory learner, you might find it helpful to record yourself reading out the material you need to learn, and then listen back to this.
  • Try to ensure that you get enough sleep – being well rested is really important for effective study.
  • Try to minimise your stress levels, as stress is a real mind-blocker. For example, plan ahead rather than leaving work until the last minute.
  • Choose the time of day to study when you feel the most alert. For example, Ken likes the early morning, while Rory is a night owl.
  • Take a break if you are tired.

Above all, do what works best for you: you know the right way forward for yourself.

Taking Risks in Therapy (starts at 13.01 mins)

In ‘Practice Matters’, Rory discusses how to be a ‘boundary ninja’ – that is, working at the edge of boundaries, so long as this is in the service of your client.

He describes a number of scenarios in which practitioners took risks that paid off in terms of helping clients move forward. While some people would see confronting or challenging a client as directive or even judgemental, others would describe doing so as courageously congruent.

Rory provides various guidelines on how to strike the right balance here; these are described in his handout on taking risks in therapy. This can be downloaded here; it is also available in the Handouts Vault and Counselling Study Resource (CSR).

Faith: Internal or External Locus of Evaluation? (starts at 17.49 mins)

Ken and Rory discuss this complex but fascinating philosophical question. The person-centred approach arose from the Human Potential Movement; it represents a distinct set of ideas that are different from religion.

It could be argued that the idea of original sin in religion is based on an external locus of evaluation. Similarly, it could be argued that the person-centred approach has an external locus, in that it seeks to apply theory created by someone else (i.e. Carl Rogers).

When Rogers left Wisconsin and went to help found the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, he became interested in encounter groups (now more commonly known as ‘PD [personal development] groups’). In the 1960s, he held one of these with 600 sisters from the Immaculate Heart Society, who were working in elementary schools. The group was led by associates Bruce Meador and Bill Coulson. The sisters were interested in looking at how they could communicate with people from a non-faith-based tradition. Interestingly, the community ended up splitting up.

In terms of how counselling and religion might interlink, the most important thing is for people to relate to each respectfully, taking the time and making the effort to understand each other’s meanings in the world.

While both religion and the person-centred approach assert that essence precedes existence (i.e. that we each start life with an innate purpose), existential therapy takes the opposite view – i.e. that existence precedes essence (i.e. that it is up to each individual to find their own purpose in the world). You can find a lecture by Rory on existential therapy in the CSR.

Links and Resources

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