Monday, November 24, 2008

On being like Jesus in Therapy

(from a book report on "On Being a Therapist" by Jeffrey Kottler)

Kottler writes that
“the ideal therapist is comfortable with herself and appears warm, tolerant, sincere, serene, tranquil, and self-assured. This quiet confidence is counterbalanced by a contagious zest for life. Passion. Excitement. Electricity. Enthusiasm. She radiates from body and soul” (p. 36).
If I could write a description of the person I want to be, this would be very close to what I would write. Maybe this is one reason I’m drawn to a therapeutic career—the goals of who I am supposed to be professionally match very well to the personality characteristics that I want to have in my every day life and interactions.

However, this seems to be somewhat of an impossible goal. When we’re in a therapy session, with intense concentration, maybe it is possible to be all of these things. But all the time? In every situation? In every relationship? This seems unconquerable. However, with this in mind, I can consider what I tell myself when I think about trying to be all of these things as an integral part of who I am—it’s a journey. I can seek to make progress in the moment, and eventually, I will become closer to the person that I want to be, if not fully, then the best that I can.

This is where a religious element comes into play for me. The reason why I want to be these things in every day life is because they are the characteristics that I see in Jesus, who I want to emulate. Further, I know that I can never be like Him on my own—on the contrary, I can only achieve these personality characteristics through God’s grace and transformation of my life. In a way, this makes also makes it easier for me to not be hard on myself. I know that if I am working on improvement, I don’t have to be perfect (which is good, because I never will be the ideal version of myself that I seek). Instead, I can try to be more, relying not solely on myself, but on transformative grace for the change in my personality (no pun intended). In the process, I try to extend the same grace to myself that I see from God—not beating myself up or despairing over my imperfections, but continuing to move forward on the journey.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I read the same book for one of my classes, and we all laughed at how Kottler's goal seemed to be to scare us away from becoming therapists! So I'm glad that you gleamed something positive from it! And I have to applaud you on your great thoughts of integration. Isn't it awesome that developing ourselves as professionals and persons moves us closer to the image of Christ? I love it!