If you read this intro before…skip to the blue below.
I had this idea in my head. Maybe put three pictures up in my office, each representing something important about what I do. Counseling reminder. A touchstone for the eye of sorts. Well, like I said, it was in my head and as I realized one of the three pictures I wasn’t going to be able to get, and the others were certainly copyrighted, the three sort of evolved as I looked for alternatives. So in looking for a different way to go, in my head, we went from three reminders to 96 reminders. It’s why my wife refers to what comes out of my noggin as ‘cumbersome’ on occasion.
So. I am mostly a counselor, but I have also studied and practiced a bunch of other things including cuisine and photography. I always wanted to have an idea why some folks in every field are wildly successful compared to many of their contemporaries, so I always checked a bunch of them out. So, here come 96 people and quotes attributed to them, if there are any – 24 chefs, 24 photographers, 20 people associated with psychology directly, and then 28 none of the above people whose lives or words remind me what to strive towards as a counselor, a counseling business owner, and a general human being. The only problem was stopping. There have been a lot of people who for one reason or another inspire me, lots more names on the potential list but it had to at least pause somewhere, so here we are.
I don’t rightly know if writing these out and posting them will be of any use to anyone else but I’m reasonably sure codifying the whole thing will drive it home for me and hopefully offer some encouragement and centering for our folks. Hope you get something out of one or two of them too.
“Psychology” Guy – Michael White
Remember those commercials for Foster’s Lager? “Australian for Beer.” Well, Michael White is Australian for Social Worker. He and David Epston introduced the Narrative Psychology concept which centered around the idea that people and their problems are not the same thing, they are separate from each other. There is also the idea that the narrative we tell about our lives is as important as the historical events and is not only made up of subjective judgments, those judgements are open to reinterpretation even when the events are not. To change the story will not change the actual events, but has the capability of completely altering the effect of those events on the person and others. Yes please.
“The problem is the problem, the person is not the problem.”
Michael White and David Epston
“The most powerful therapeutic process I know is to contribute to rich story development.”
“And what of solidarity? I am thinking of a solidarity that is constructed by therapists who refuse to draw a sharp distinction between their lives and the lives of others, who refuse to marginalize those persons who seek help, by therapists who are constantly confronting the fact that if faced with the circumstances such that provide the context of troubles of others, they just might not be doing nearly as well themselves.”
I learned of Michael White and Narrative approaches from Dr.s Bubenzer and West at Kent State. They remind me that just because I am trained in some blue-chip evidence-based practice for a specific diagnosis or issue, what matters most is the person in front of me and that person is not just a diagnosis or issue but a collection of so much more. All of that more will be vital in their overcoming whatever might be inhibiting their growth. This is why in my instructor days I would keep students from referring to their earliest clients by their “diagnosis”. It may not seem like much, but there is a practical difference between seeing someone as a problem and someone of whom this problem is just a part of. This is often true of both me and students but often for clients as well. Especially, since the problem may have become the central focus of their self and/or others perceptions of them by the time they decide to see someone. By hearing and understanding their story, a rewrite can not only separate them from their struggle, but may help them key into those other parts of themselves and overcome or manage it. Once again…yes, please.
Learn more about Michael White here: