This post has been written by Brittany Earles, a psychology student from the US who recently completed a 4 month placement at SKATTLE
While on placement at SKATTLE I have had the opportunity to learn and practice skills from a Narrative, Strengths-based and Solution Focused therapy approach.
Along the way there have been a few key themes that have caught my attention. Let’s take a look at three that I think are essential to the counseling support that SKATTLE provides.
3 Things I’ve learned about Post-structuralist Therapies
1. The Importance of Stories
Understanding that each client has faced life-changing experiences that have shaped their unique story is central to this counseling framework. In conversations with clients the counselor is interested in listening for an alternate story that is layered within the story that is being told.
By listening to the client’s perspective and pulling out the language they use it is possible to start to develop the alternate story. This alternate story shifts the focus from the events, unique life-changes, and problems in the client’s life to the skills, strengths, and experience the client utilized, and continues to utilize, in their life.
Using the approach of separating the person from the problem can be beneficial to uncovering the alternate story.
Externalizing the problem can be beneficial for the client and counselor to reveal imposing social structures and the negative effects these can have on the client’s life.
The goal is not to disregard the problem but to acknowledge that the problem is separate from the person, to reflect on what is not their fault, and to continue forward to process their story. Reshaping any blaming or shaming thinking can reduce fear and stigma, which is important to form and maintain positive views of self.
3. The De-Centered Counselor
The third theme, and one of the most distinct and central ideas to SKATTLE’s framework, is the place from where the counselor positions him or herself within the counseling setting.
The question is: Is the counselor coming from a place of authority as the “expert” or do they take a step back and partner with the client who has their own skills and experience?
The focus at SKATTLE is to support people in rediscovering and building upon their own skills so they can walk away feeling more hopeful and confident. Transparency, partnership, and collaboration are key elements in the relationship between client and counselor that engage the client to discover their own story, and aid the counselor in supporting them to do so.
Reflecting on my first few weeks with SKATTLE I remember feeling unsure of my abilities to use these tools.
Because of the level of support and teaching that I have received I have grown more confident and feel more prepared as I continue in my counseling studies.
So with my time at SKATTLE having drawn to a close I am ready to take what I’ve learned here and apply it to further my studies, and someday in my own practice.