Yalom's therapeutic factors - universality in individual psychotherapy

topic posted Mon, March 9, 2009 - 4:24 PM by  Rafe
I've found that it is often the case with my clients that they present with feelings of inadequacy and fear of isolation or abandonment that stem from deep dark secrets that they hide not only from others but also from themselves. And it seems that these feelings (unconscious or otherwise) remain, in so far as they believe these elements of their shadow self to be unique and unlike anyone else in the world.

Thus, the inevitable question that burns in my mind is the following: Assuming the aforementioned claim and that "there is no human deed or thought that's fully outside the experience of other people" (Yalom, 1985), how does one as a therapist aide the client in gaining this insight within the boundaries of individual psychotherapy?

Realizing "we're all in the same boat" is rather easy to do in a group psychotherapy setting as group members can disclose such beliefs in which others can identify with, but in an individual setting the therapist is usually recommended to perform as little self-disclosure as possible.

For example, suppose a married heterosexual male experiences feelings of attraction occasionally towards another man; benign as they may be, these feelings frighten him - they could jeopardize his identity, career, marriage, relationships with family, friends, etc...believing no one he knows could possibly understand or "be in the same boat" he attempts to ignore or even suppress these feelings and goes on about his life.

Obviously, it seems rather contraindicated to disclose that all men feel this way, and even more so for the therapist to make the personal disclosure of homosexual feelings. I understand that there are ways around such things to aide the client towards resolution of such fears, but I still believe this therapeutic factor of universality is in its truest form, beyond the purview of individual psychotherapy. The best you can do as the therapists is <b> advise <b> the client such of things, you simply cannot <b> show <b> the client as can be done in a group setting through multiple self-disclosures of such deep secrets...which I gotta believe is a much more powerful tool.

What are y'all's thoughts? Agree? Disagree?
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