Thursday, May 11, 2006

Dyadic Friendship

Modern psychotherapies of which there are around 260 [1] have certain common features which affect the outcome for care and in many ways parallels spiritual direction. Butman and Jones have identified the four main features. They are…

· Offering reassurance and support.
· Desensitizing the client to distress.
· Encouraging adaptive functioning
· Offering understanding and insight [2]

They describe the relationship between the counsellor and client as being dyadic, that it is a two way interaction which is collaborative, structured and private. The same holds true of those who seek another to guide and encourage them. It is, in essence, ‘friendship in Christ between two people by which one is enabled, through the personal encounter, to discern more clearly the will of God for one’s life, and to grow in discipleship and in the life of grace.’[3]
Butman and Jones’ description of this collaborative relationship is in essence a reflective process and has similarities with journaling where the counsellor or in Christian terms, ‘spiritual director’ is the page to write their reflections on.
The client comes to believe in and develop hope from what happens in therapy, in part because the therapist appears to have a theory for understanding and explaining the client’s distress as well as having intervention techniques for reducing it. In a supportive atmosphere with an empathetic and caring therapist, the client begins to disclose and re-evaluate feeling and behaviour patterns, to understand and accept previously rejected aspects of herself, to learn new methods of living with self and others and to gain new satisfactions from life. [4]

There is a sense here; it seems to me, that the counsellor or therapist can be understood as a confessor.
[1] Stanton L. Jones and Richard E. Butman, ‘Modern Psychotherapies’, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, 1991, p.11.
[2] Stanton L. Jones and Richard E. Butman, ‘Modern Psychotherapies’, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, 1991, p.12.
[3] Kenneth Leech, ‘Spirituality and Pastoral Care’, London, Sheldon Press, 1987, p.48.
[4] Stanton L. Jones and Richard E. Butman, ‘Modern Psychotherapies’, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, 1991, p.12. They identify also here that there is evidence that these factors ‘are not all there is to effective psychotherapy’.

Photos courtesy of stock.xchng

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