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Therapy refers to any type of treatment that does not involve surgical operation. There are two main forms of therapy: psychotherapy and physiotherapy. Therapy has been used for a long time to care for numerous ailments and disorders all over the globe (Young, 2009, p. 22). The principal objective of different types of therapy is to provide patients with the best care possible. Therapy is normally administered by professional therapists. Patients usually have different expectations. However, there are a number of characteristics/attributes that are common among reputable therapists (Young, 2009, p. 43).
The aspiration of many therapists is to be on top in their work. However, studies have shown that there is no therapeutic approach, strategy or intervention that is better than the other. These studies have also shown that professional training and qualification have little impact on the results or efficiency of the treatment. Therefore, the outcome of any therapeutic treatment majorly depends on the therapists (Young, 2009, p. 46). This essay will explore different characteristics/ attributes of excellent therapists. In addition, the paper will examine the challenges facing newcomers in this profession.
Characteristics or qualities of an excellent therapist
According to theories and research evidence, there are eight main characteristics of excellent/effective therapists namely: verbal assuredness and fluency, interpersonal discernment, high level of professionalism, warmth and acceptance, empathy and empowerment, self awareness, patient awareness, and communicating hope and optimism (Littauer, Sexton & Wynn, 2005, p. 23). Patients of an excellent therapist usually feel understood, have faith on the therapist and believe in their approach.
Good therapists normally create these conditions through verbal exchange at the earlier stages. In the first moments of interactions patients are extremely receptive to signs of acceptance, appreciation and professionalism. Even though verbal assuredness and fluency are important throughout the therapeutic process, they are vital at the earlier stages of interaction (Littauer, Sexton & Wynn, 2005, p. 24).
A good therapist is able to form close relations with a wide range of clients. The close relations entail a therapeutic bond, as well as approval of the therapeutic process. Therefore, the relationship can be described as collaborative. Collaborative relation enhances trust and belief on the part of the client (Littauer, Sexton & Wynn, 2005, p. 25). A close working relationship with the clients helps them to establish their own goals. Patients normally seek help from therapists regarding a specific problem. They know what the problem is. However, their main challenge is what to do about it. Therefore, a good therapist helps in establishing the cause of the problem and setting up of goals for clients to work towards (Young, 2009, p. 73).
Despite of the fact that some studies dispute the impact of professionalism on the results or efficiency of therapeutic treatment, outstanding credentials are very essential. Therapists who have achieved basic education and professional standards are always regarded as effective therapists. In addition, experience and extra training are essential in achieving excellent results. Educational and professional qualifications also earn admiration and respect among the peers. Furthermore, studies have revealed that most clients prefer therapists with exceptional qualifications and experience (Littauer, Sexton & Wynn, 2005, p. 26).
An excellent therapist should be able to offer satisfactory and adaptive explanations to their patients. These explanations must take into considerations a number of factors. First, they must conform to the conventional medical practices. Second, they must be compatible with the patients’ social background. Third, the explanations must be flexible to overcome any form of difficulty during the therapeutic process. Last but not least, the explanations should be based on scientific facts and clients’ context. All these considerations require a high level of professionalism and excellent interpersonal discernment (Littauer, Sexton & Wynn, 2005, p. 27).
An excellent therapist should be able to encourage clients to share all their feelings regarding the therapeutic process. This is because clients are always concerned about their experience in therapy. This is normal. A number of them are always scared to voice their concern due to fear of hurting the feeling of the therapist. In addition, some fear to question their therapist even when they are not comfortable with the approach used. Therefore, a good therapist should allow their patient’s to express how they feel even when the feeling is not positive. He/she should accept criticism and welcome any form of opinion (Littauer, Sexton & Wynn, 2005, p. 27).
Excellent therapists communicate hope and sanguinity. This communication is somehow simple among patients who are responding positively to therapeutic treatment. However, patients with severe or chronic ailments usually experience degeneration or inconsistent outcomes (Littauer, Sexton & Wynn, 2005, p. 30). Good therapists acknowledge these challenges but keep on communicating hope to their clients.
These therapists do not convey unrealistic goals, but rather a staunch belief that collaboration between the two parties will achieve a successful result. Therefore, excellent therapists mobilize patient strength and resources to enhance their ability to overcome challenges. These therapists also create attribution among patients by facilitating a sense of mastery (Young, 2009, p. 66; Littauer, Sexton & Wynn, 2005, p. 31).
Outstanding therapists are responsive to patient’s attributes and background. Patient attributes include: culture, traditions, sexual orientation, religion, age, health status and aspirations among others. Background entails available resources, relations and support network, occupational status, cultural background and contemporaneous services. Awareness of patient’s characteristics and context help therapists with coordinating patient care services.
In addition, patient’s characteristics and context help therapists to forge a good relation with patients (Littauer, Sexton & Wynn, 2005, p. 32). Excellent therapists are conscious of their own mental health and do not instill their own material during the therapy except for premeditated therapeutic actions. In such cases, therapists do reflect their own response to the patients to establish if these responses are sensible given the client presentation on the same (Littauer, Sexton & Wynn, 2005, p. 34).
Lastly, good therapists are empathetic and empower their clients. Clients normally share deep and intimate thoughts. As a result, they expect therapists to be empathetic and understanding. This attribute helps to inculcate trust and confidence between the two parties. Furthermore, good therapists not only solve clients’ problems, but also help them to tackle the problem on their own (Littauer, Sexton & Wynn, 2005, p. 35).
Challenges facing beginner therapists
One of the main challenges facing beginner therapists is lack of adequate training. This normally leads to procedural and structural lapses, which in turn leads to negative escalation or outcome. Particularly, this is common among clients suffering from psychosocial disorders. This may force therapists to abandon a given approach entirely even if it has been used in the past successfully. As a result, it may lead to the extermination of therapeutic strategies that may be useful in the future (Butler, 2008, p. 330).
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Another challenge involves transferring theory learned in the classroom to the clinical work. Most students being admitted to various therapy courses undergoes vigorous theoretical and experiential exercise and are expected to do their best in their clinical work. However, these students normally experience difficulty when incorporating theory, studies and practice in their clinical activities. Therefore, the gap between class work and the application of theories in practical sessions is still huge among beginner therapists (Butler, 2008, p. 335). Expose to
The huge gap between class work and application of learned theories in clinical work is a major cause of concern. Most of these therapists normally strive to narrow this gap in order to enhance their performance and meet patients demand. However, most beginners normally struggle to apply learned theory to their own work. Therefore, academic institutions should employ both theoretical work and clinical supervision in their experimental studies to assist students in integrating theories into their practical work (Butler, 2008, p. 335).
Therapy has been used to treat numerous ailments and disorders for very many years. Generally, most therapists strive to provide their clients with the best care possible. At the same time, these clients have different expectations. However, there are a number of characteristics or attributes that are common among reputable therapists. These characteristics include: verbal assuredness and fluency, interpersonal discernment, high level of professionalism, warmth and acceptance, empathy and empowerment, self awareness, patient awareness, and communicating hope and optimism. Nonetheless, there are a number of challenges facing beginner therapists. They are inadequate training and huge theory-practice gap.
Butler, M. (2008). Common Pitfalls of Beginning Therapists Utilizing Enactment. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 34 (3), 329-352.
Littauer, H., Sexton, H., & Wynn, R. (2005). Qualities Clients wish for in their therapists. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Science, 19, 21-31.
Young, M. (2009). Learning the Art of Helping: Building Blocks and Techniques. Oxford: Oxford University Press.