Both content and process, maybe…?

“The psychotherapist’s single most valuable practical tool is the “process” focus. Think of process as opposed to content. In a conversation, the content consists of the actual words uttered, the substantive issues discussed; the process, however, is how the content is expressed and especially what this mode of expression reveals about the relationship between the participating individuals.”

Yalom, Irvin D. (2012-06-05). Love’s Executioner (p. 115). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

The process, how we communicate the content of our issues, tends by it’s very nature to be less of a focus in therapy in comparison to the content of our experiences. However, to say that process focus is  “the psychotherapist’s single most valuable tool” seems a little too certain for me. How do we know this as a certainty? I wonder if context should determine the focus of the therapeutic encounter. For instance, in one case, exploring the content of a client’s experiences might be the most helpful thing to focus on, while in another, maybe the process, the interaction between client and therapist as the content is being shared, should be. Don’t get me wrong, I think Irving Yalom is the man when it comes to effective therapeutic approach. I just think that the therapy session itself, not the therapist (ego), should motivate one’s choice of focus, which might not be an “either-or” situation at all – maybe the therapist should keep both approaches equally accessible during his or her counseling sessions. Rigidity is what I fear most when it comes to how therapsits approach helping their clients. Considering psychotherapy as a whole, I firmly believe that no one way or approach is the most valuable. Context must always be considered.


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