By Dr George Simon, PhD | 19 January 2015
Folks in emotional distress need to know there’s a way out. They don’t just need to be understood and accepted. They need far more than merely feeling both safe and relieved in venting their concerns to another human being.
Not too long ago, therapists were routinely trained in a very different way about how best to do their jobs. In many ways, they were urged to do as little as possible. They weren’t supposed to make judgments about their clients, or more specifically, to pass judgment on them. They also weren’t supposed to have emotional reactions to the things their clients said, and to be on guard about displaying reactions they couldn’t keep from having. Most importantly, they weren’t supposed to give direct advice. Rather, they were supposed to set an atmosphere in which their clients could feel perfectly safe to explore their own issues, come to their own insights, reach their own conclusions, and, therefore, eventually, resolve their own problems. But in recent years, research on the effectiveness of therapy has provided us some contrary evidence to many of these traditional notions. In the process we’ve learned a lot not only about what makes therapy effective but also about the characteristics an effective therapist needs to possess.