Time2Track Blog

Real-Life Resources for Students & Early Career Professionals

Uncertainty, Transference and Other Reasons Therapists Might Fail

Uncertainty, Transference and Other Reasons Therapists Might Fail

We often know our goal, but rarely what lies in our way. “There is a road, no simple highway” (Hunter, The Grateful Dead, 1970). At times, we may find that no matter what we try, we cannot seem to overcome the problem and reach our goal – our cabin on the hillside.

No matter how hard we wish, for some problems there is no simple highway – no quick-fix, deus-ex-machina, five-step solution, or magic wand.

These are the points in life when people most often turn to psychotherapy; they have tried everything and, to varying degrees, may have a fantasy that psychotherapists have some top-secret piece of advice. Especially therapists-in-training who are excited about helping, anxious to prove their competence, and unfamiliar with the uncertainty of the therapeutic process might find themselves colluding with this client’s wish for a magic solution in order to reduce both parties’ uncertainty.

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How I Failed My Client In Psychotherapy and Grew From It

How I Failed My Client In Psychotherapy and Grew From It

From Cindy’s pressed lips, lined with wrinkles that extended noticeably beyond her years, came exasperated concerns of torturous anxiety.

Deeper than her polite solemnity, there seemed to be a well of sadness. This sadness pervaded her down-turned lips, slow gate, and slumped posture. Cindy’s helpless presentation pulled at my heart-strings; in particular as a young therapist-in-training, I wanted to help. I listened empathically, encouraged her strengths, taught skills such as deep-breathing, and offered advice.

However, like clockwork, every 15 minutes Cindy’s down-turned, sad lips would slowly become pursed with frustration. Pursed like a toddler refusing a big spoonful of syrupy cough-medicine. Shutting off, and shutting me out.

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The Power of a Therapist’s Authentic Human Presence

The Power of a Therapist’s Authentic Human Presence

Almost all developing therapists move through a phase of resisting ambiguity. The uncertain, variable nature of psychotherapy can be intimidating and leave you feeling like a novice with every new challenging case. I often wish for a map that would help me guide my clients on their paths from suffering to contentment.

But there’s a reason ambiguity is inherent in this work: Psychotherapy is relational in nature. It is part theory, education, and research, and part human connection. The latter is the source of ambiguity that can be difficult to move into as a beginning therapist, but it’s also central to effective therapy.

Common factors research highlights the importance of the therapeutic relationship above and beyond specific theoretical orientations [1]. It provides empirical evidence that the therapist’s authentic human presence within the therapeutic relationship is a key factor of change.

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Cultural Competence in Therapy: Why We Must See Color

Cultural Competence in Therapy: Why We Must See Color

It seems that workplaces, schools, companies, and organizations are increasingly paying more attention to diversity and culture lately.

While this growing interest is encouraging, there are times when there is a significant lack of follow-through regarding the attention these issues receive. This is a disservice to everyone involved, but it comes at a special price in the realm of therapy.

I know of several graduate programs that pride themselves on their emphasis on diversity, yet have only a few course offerings specifically related to the topic and do not consistently revisit cultural issues throughout other courses.

With regard to psychology and therapy, the lack of consistent attention to cultural issues has the potential to create and maintain impasses that can affect the client’s progress.

As aspiring mental health professionals, we have the best of intentions in our work with clients. It is very important, however, to assess for cultural importance and issues of diversity in our first meetings with clients and then to be mindful of the ways we communicate with those clients moving forward.

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Tilting at Windmills: The EPPP and Me

Tilting at Windmills: The EPPP and Me

When I was 16, I saw a psychologist who helped me find my way out of a depression that had developed as a result of my parents’ chaotic divorce. That experience had a profound impact on me; I hyper-focused on psychology as a career goal and never considered anything...

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The Ultimate Guide to Suicide Assessment

The Ultimate Guide to Suicide Assessment

Suicide is a significant public health concern. Approximately 44,965 Americans die by suicide each year [1]. This equates to approximately 123 suicides per day. Recent reports have indicated a 30% increase in suicide rates from 1999 to 2016 (10.5 per 100,000 to 13.4 per 100,000) [2]. Additionally, we know that suicide does not only affect those with a diagnosed mental health condition. The CDC data notes that approximately half of those who died by suicide between 1999 and 2016 did not have a known mental health condition [2]. Though a mental health condition can be a risk factor for suicide, other factors that can contribute to suicide include stress related to relationships, finances, jobs, housing, substance use, or physical health. The ubiquity of suicide and the increase in suicide rates over the last 17 years support the importance of community suicide education and consistent suicide assessment, intervention, and treatment among clinicians interacting with individuals at increased suicide risk.

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