By: Suzanne Maiden, M.A., LPC
I was invited to speak to a group this past week. I spoke about SIB, Self-Injurious Behavior, aka, ‘cutting’. I gave the attendees my four-page handout citing facts and stats regarding definitions, gender and racial differences, typical age groups, and various scientific theories. I enjoy presenting and sharing my knowledge.
Then, a middle-aged man with a wave of steel-colored hair looked up over his metal-frame glasses and asked: “You said you have fairly good success with helping cutters. What do you attribute that to?” I readily responded: “Therapeutic brilliance never cures the client. But love does.”
Out of all the data I presented to this educated group, and all of my care in looking professional, speaking well, and emulating speakers that I’ve admired – this statement alone seemed to win their confidence in me. I saw people nod. This moment of my pure authenticity resonated as their truth. What qualities does a good therapist possess? Yes, the obvious is needed. A good therapist needs to have a solid theoretical framework, based on data and research, from which they operate. Most therapists that I know, are eclectic and integrate a variety of techniques such as experiential with humanistic, and dose of cognitive-behavioral therapy to assist their clients. This is good. This works. But, in my experience, when the client experiences genuine lovingness from the therapist – this hastens the healing process. Carl Rogers referred to this as ‘unconditional positive regard.’
When we feel safe, contained, valued, deeply understood and loved by the therapist – we are able to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and emotionally exposed, knowing that whatever we bring into the therapeutic setting is OK. This is what helps us heal. Love.