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A new decade is a good time to reflect on why psychotherapists came into this work and perhaps, more importantly, why we chose the humanistic model.

As we reflect on the past decade it was marked most assuredly in the Western world in 2001 by the life changing events of 9/11. Thereafter we have had wars, hurricanes, mud slides, climate change and our awareness of it, earthquakes, political changes, tsunamis, economic and financial changes to name but a few.

For some of us the world was different when we entered into this profession and in the light of the changes that the above disasters have on the global psyche, how can we remain humanistic in our daily life? Do we use our humanistic skill only when we are with our clients or can we carry ourselves humanistically in our world? When we struggle with our inner conflicts are we in combative mode or can we adopt a “responsive” stance, allowing us to be open to hear the other and respond to that.  This does not mean that we surrender our views but if we can enter into dialogue there is some hope of resolving issues.  The art of dialogue is also changing with access to instant information through email, texting, voice mails etc.

Going forward in this work how can we ensure that our students develop the humanistic skill? It appears that our training is taking a more academic route and in that route do our trainers model humanistic skills. HETAC and FETAC involve boxes to be ticked, hours to be met, Europe, Statutory Regulation etc… In the teaching profession we are telling the students what we want them to hear but it is possible and indeed vital to the integrity of our profession to deliver these teachings in a humanistic way.  The task of training is to de-construct so as to integrate and this can be achieved by the use of creativity in the training.  To be Humanistic is a life choice and once we choose it we aspire to carrying ourselves in a unique and wholesome way.  We don’t have to think about it, it becomes second nature. However, outside circumstances can cause us to shift from this way.  Do we recognise what these circumstances are and when we catch them how do we manage ourselves?  We have all experienced how personalities change when they take office. For example, when politicians come into their work they want to make a difference to the lives of their constituents but that first political stage, after a time, gets too small and as they enter the larger stage with more power, they may lose their integrity and values as they get more powerful. They appear to lose the capacity to make good judgements in the interest of the greater good.

So, as we start this decade let us be mindful of our Humanistic self.  What do we need to do to ensure that we carry ourselves in that wonderful place which Carl Rogers so eloquently spoke about when he said, “am I living in a way which is deeply satisfying to me and which truly expresses me?”

The Irish Association of Humanistic
& Integrative Psychotherapy (IAHIP) Ltd.

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