Accentuate The Positive

Every conversation in therapy is different but sometimes I start to hear themes that appear in many sessions about (supposedly) diverse issues.  It happened this week…….

Q. What is similar about choosing a dress, a job, or a lover? 

A. Find a dress, a job, or a lover that accentuates your positives and minimizes your negatives.  There was an old song that made the same suggestion.

This idea runs across our lives. We are happiest and most confident when we are in situations (or clothes or with people) that allow us to show our strengths and do not highlight our weaknesses.  For example, my work shows off my better points – being a psychologist allows me to be creative;  to hear people’s genuine thoughts; my work feeds my curiosity; I move toward honest communication and generally feel like I am contributing a bit of usefulness to the world. My work does not show off my weaknesses. It does not require much math; I don’t have to travel or commute far distances; I don’t have to be coordinated; I don’t have to sing; I don’t have to be aggressive and I don’t have to sell anything. I have a good deal.  It makes sense, of course. Why would we spend time doing work or being with people who highlight our worst attributes?

If you are an early career clinician, a professor who teaches interviewing skills, or a clinical supervisor, you will find my newest book, “What Do I Say? The Therapist’s Guide To Answering Client’s Questions” (with C. Waehler, published by John Wiley, 2011) a  practical, useful addition to your library. 


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