Past experiences play a huge role in the lives of people and the choices they make. Depending on the theoretical framework you pull from, past experiences may play a significant role in the treatment plan or may not be a focal point at all. For example, in Solution focused therapy attention is focused on what is going right, small goals, and what they can do now to change the problem they came into therapy for. Therefore, little treatment focus is placed on past experiences. Gestalt is all about “promoting awareness through experiences in the here and now…as people become more aware they reconnect with parts of themselves they may have been cut off from (Seligman 2010).” So, basically being aware of how your past has influenced your current position in life, how it has impacted your choices, and being focused on emotions, experiences and sensations to promote growth and change in your life. Existential therapy places focus on choices and finding meaning in life. The past here is used to honor the meanings you have found from life experiences. Adler, Erickson and Freud all felt that the past holds the key to understanding your conscious self. The past influences us; from the teacher who made me feel special in kindergarten to the first boy who broke my heart and especially to the family members that taught me what family and relationships look like (or sometimes shouldn’t look like), the past impacts your choices and your future. The cool part about this thing called life is that we do have a choice in our behaviors and we can work towards a life that gives us meaning and self-actualization. Continue reading
The concept of change has many aspects and directions to it. The instrumental part? Starting! The key concept in change? Clarity.
Sure, we have had those moments when we have thought about change, maybe we even started planning. Perhaps made an appointment, did some research, and maybe we even kicked in and did a few repetitions on this thing we were changing.
The trouble? Keeping up with it, making it stick. See, change is tough, or isn’t that what we tell ourselves? Well….it feels tough at first. It’s new; its uncomfortable; it’s an awakening, and our mind and body don’t really want to change. They are used to doing what we do; they are used to the same old stuff. This brings about fear, and the realization that either I am going to have to actually utilize effort to make progress, or wow….what if this change doesn’t work? What if I put effort into something and in the end, it doesn’t pan out? See…that is the crux of it.
“What if in the long run, it doesn’t pan out?” This fear paralyzes us from progress, because we would rather stay where we are, where we know what to expect instead of doing something different. Why put work and effort in and then end up disappointed because we cannot change anyways? That is why we not only have to change what we do when we want to acquire a new behavior; we have to think differently. I see this frequently in work with clients with addictions, but the cool thing about changing the way you think, is it is helpful for anyone.