As I continue to teach and lecture among my colleagues around the world, I have become increasingly aware that most psychotherapists train and practice within a paradigm that sees patients’ problems as rooted in pathology. These therapists wait and watch for a symptom to see how it might fit into a a category of identified disorders. That neatly solves the problem for the therapists, but not for the patients.
For nearly four decades, I have sat and listened to people who present their stories and their anguish. I still marvel at how unique are many of their problems and how well these problems also function as solutions. The more I explore a situation to find out what is right rather than what is wrong about it, the more creativity I discover and the deeper is my conviction that the human spirit is way ahead of the human mind in its genius for adaptation.
While an understanding of the science of psychology is the accepted basis for treating patients, a wider appreciation of the human spirit informs my practice. A therapist’s job may be less to cure a problem than to identify, respect and even revere how it solves or rectifies life’s dilemmas. And whenever I am able to cast a so-called problem in a positive light, the person gains a reinforced respect for himself and for what his or her spirit is seeking to achieve. And so do I.