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Essay #2 Theoretical Orientation

Graduate students applying for internships are often thrown into a position where they
need to straddle the line between arrogance and humility, as they are asked to share what sets
them above the pack but also in what areas they still need to grow. Presenting their CVs and
autobiographical essays demonstrates competence and professionalism, and having them
succinctly and concretely assert with which theoretical orientation they most align so early in
their careers certainly provokes anxiety and creates several introspective questions.
I have studied (briefly?) the four main schools of psychological thought and have taken a
semester in integrative therapies, and should I be asked which speaks to me the most, I connect
with the philosophy of cognitive-behavioral therapy. I believe it is the interpretation of the event,
not the event itself, which results in the consequent emotion or feeling; some patients, however,
do not appreciate the calculated manner and often perceived coolness CBT therapists are wont to
offer. It is in this arena where most of my growth can occur since my persona is one of exuding
warmth yet may instill cognitive dissonance in me when administering CBT. I think I would like
to convey that while I do practice CBT, I am warm and not as calculated as those practitioners
are. This is not a bad thing, but my brand of CBT is different from what is out there now.
Sitting across from clients who have endured trauma or abuse of any kind, this therapist
cannot help but feel their sadness. It is not enough for me to help them arrive at a world where
they no longer feel this pain through any means possible; I desire also to absorb some of their
suffering, so they have less to bear themselves. While I do not believe it my responsibility as a
therapist to sustain client psychic distress, I choose to lessen their loads a little and shoulder this
burden slightly. Combining the empathic listening and self-exploration of Psychodynamic
therapy with the evidence-based practice and relatively short-term component of CBT seems to
cover what transpires when I am in session.
Though ultimately I aspire to practice brief psychotherapy, not every patient is a perfect
candidate for it nor does everyone desire it. Many synagogues have Know before Whom you
stand written on their walls, reminding supplicants of Gods presence. I prefer the therapists
version: know before whom you sit. My clients are my boss; what they want and need is
determined by them instead of me.
To wit, I am looking to put forth an even more caring face on my Linehanian/family
therapy irreverence and incorporate several other styles to keep in my utility belt but be married
to none. I am also searching to broaden the definition of mental illness to the point where it no
longer exists, not in a Szaszian sense but in a Watzlawickian one. Naming a phenomenon does
not create it; instead of calling it depression or anxiety or schizophrenia, we should see suffering
and determine how to alleviate it.