To Be Or Not To Be Therapeutic Essay

This essay has a total of 952 words and 4 pages.

To Be Or Not To Be Therapeutic

In Jacquelyn Small's book "Becoming Naturally Therapeutic: A Return to the True Essence of
Helping," I explored what it takes to be a genuinely helpful counselor. Although I do not
intend to pursue a career in counseling, her book touches on various topics that may be
used by all individuals. Small provides her readers with a check-list of characteristic
ranging from empathy to respect to self-actualization that are virtually essential to
becoming therapeutic.

The book begins by stating that "ordinary people" offer better therapeutic help than
professionals. In a sense, this fact was surprising because you would think that trained
professional would be better equipped to counsel people. However, there are a various
reasons why the previous statement should not be shocking. For example, I can understand
why an individual seeking help would be more reluctant to visit a licensed counselor. For
starters, the general public has a preconception that going to therapy is like admitting
that you're "insane." They also fear being analyzed. Therefore, people are more inclined
to request the aid of a close friend because it is less intimidating. In addition, when
your share with your peers they respond in a "normal" manner rather than in a theoretical
fashion. By this I refer to the use of all those theories and disorders that one learns in
psychology courses.

Next, Small discusses how we can fall into the habit of letting our own feelings interfere
with the patients' problem. This can create all sorts of complication and the results can
be far more damaging that the problem itself. "Toxic relating" is proper term used to
describe the confusion between the helper and the patient. In this situation, we often
assume the role of preacher, judge, teacher, or savior. "Preachers" use a moralist
approach in which he/she becomes overly concerned with right and wrong. "Judges" are less
moralistic and more logical. They sound confident in their knowledge. "Teachers" lean
toward the tendency to want to properly train their patients in order to prevent
repetition of the problem. "Saviors" feel the need to quickly fix everything. They also
need to feel as if they are needed. Despite all the roles, we can only be therapeutic
listeners if the other person is being natural and sincere and safe in our hands.

Small considers the human Heart to be the only place where truth can be found. It is
referred to as "the portal or gateway to a higher reality, a more extended state of
consciousness" (16). Counseling from the heart is crucial because it requires us to
dismiss all our personal issues and simply be there for the other person. Only then will
the individual be willing and ready to offer real help. Furthermore, listening from the
heart enables us to speak and accept the truth. Therapy is described as an art rather than
a skill. Aside from the usage of our heart, there are ten characteristics that add to the
effectiveness of being a therapeutic person. The characteristics are empathy, genuineness,
respect, self-disclosure, warmth, immediacy, concreteness, confrontation, potency, and
self-actualization.

Small describes empathy as listening to the speaker, envisioning what they are undergoing,
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