Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

My Approach in Psychotherapy

Originally posted on October 12, 2017

I found a piece of paper listing “My Approach,” written 6/15/93, at the height (?) of my career: Indeed, I sorta did it. Looking back I think it was extraordinary, but it seemed to be what’s needed:
  1. Weave inner connections, using art and creativity.
  2. Develop skills of psychological literacy—basic knowledge, education, helps
  3. Work mutually, so that the client can influence (and alter) my approach to meet hers
  4. Develop a “good diagnosis,” one that is comprehensive enough to meet the complexity of the client; discriminating enough so that it fits only this client; and practical enough so that we may return to it, build on it, understand it.
  5. Integrate the patient with the family, group, community, extended family, friends, etc.
  6. Cultivate values, believe in love, faith, responsibility, so that client can feel good about his values.
  7. Remind patients of their strengths, develop their talents, use their strengths to offset or ameliorate their weaknesses.
   8. Use a pluralistic model of the psyche, a self made up of many selves, parts, roles. This enables them to be more balanced: I may have this or that weakness, but I have this or that strength to balance it.
  9. Cultivate the observer role, the manager role, also to be applied to observe our process together, and to apply psychological literacy and mutual work.
  10. Emphasize process as well as content. Learn to explore, and use that “right knowing,” the skills of self-questioning. It’s a form of applied construction-ism.
  11. Attend to the future as well as the past: Build goals. Dare to dream. Think in tems of growth and potential.
  12. Develop the client’s identity and uniqueness—how is the client special regarding the interplay of temperament, interests, skills, innate abilities or talents, images?
    This fosters a sense of being related to as a “thou” rather than a case. No preconceptions. One becomes a source of surprise and delight to one’s therapist and oneself!
  13. Use imagination, surplus reality. Heal through symbolic action.
  14. Be concrete, specific. Counter vagueness. Address nonverbal communications. Promote directness.
  15: Be open to the mystery of the process, to the synchronicities that emerge to help things along. Imagine that we are being guided together by higher powers who are teaching us, aiding in our transformation.
  16. Make our work a creative project, with discoveries and wonder at the progress.
  17. Interweave play and humor to lighten things up and lubricate the progress.


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