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Self-management is the goal of the client and the therapist works with the client to aid him or her in recognizing self-defeating thoughts or actions that will give negative results, and developing positive thoughts that will have positive results (Lazarus, 1997).
The first tenet that is examined is the one Lazarus calls "Positive Thinking."
Positive cognition is focusing on personal skills and strengths, on what is good in the world, believing in one's self and belief in one's ability to succeed. When this is the dominating thought, the client then acts in ways that bring him or her closer to success. Positive thoughts and images about one's abilities dramatically increase one's chances of succeeding. Believing that success is possible is a prerequisite for most achievements.
Thinking positively does not mean being unrealistically optimistic. Nor does it mean one is without limits, that others will only help and never hinder, or that society has no negative aspects. Problems and setbacks arise as goals are pursued, but watching for them and learning how to overcome them helps one avoid them, or at least to cope better. Positive thinking must be realistic in order to continue to exist.
Lazarus then brings up the obvious opposite: "Negative Thinking" or negative cognition.
Negative cognition means focusing on liabilities and weaknesses, problems and what is bad in other people and the world around us. By dwelling on the negative one develops a cynical attitude that can be quite debilitating. As one searches for gloom and doom, defeat and failure, one is usually successful in finding them.
Negative thinkers have good reason to believe the world is against them because if they think they are failures, they become a failure. To believe victory is unattainable and defeat is imminent often results in stress and self-defeating behaviors.
Existential Therapy is also compatible with the development of optimism, making good choices and dealing with life. It takes seriously the human condition, being realistic to a fault, recognizes the limits of human nature, and deals dynamically and actively with the situation at hand. It uses rational thought and (depending on the client) faith-based tests to find answers to life's questions (Hoffman, 2004). While there are many theories of how to use existential theory among therapists, the focus is on trying to understand human existence. This generally brings theorists to the issues of freedom and responsibility, death, relationship, and meaning. But existential therapy is more an experiential approach than cognitive or intellectual, as it deals with the emotions and experience and it is most applicable to the kinds of clients who can apply their theoretical knowledge of existentialism to everyday life. (Cox, 2004)
Albert Ellis developed what he called the "DIE" model of interpretation of data.
Data, Interpretation and Emotional Response were determined by Ellis to be the keys to acting responsibly about causal effects. Ellis said that Data refers to any person, circumstance or event that is an occasion for a positive or negative emotion. Interpretation refers to our thoughts or believes about the data, and Emotional Response refers to the emotions resulting from one's interpretation of the data.
Ellis determined that if one uses rational thought and logic, then appropriate emotions may derive from one's interpretation of the data. Interpretations based on irrational and illogical thinking result in inappropriate emotions (this is called distortion and dysfunctional beliefs).
Incorrect logic leads to incorrect conclusions and therefore incorrect emotions. If one knew all the facts about an event, and used logical, rational thinking, then correct emotions would result. However, emotions may precede observing all the data, or in interpreting the data found. If emotions are there before the data or interpretation, an irrational or distorted and dysfunctional outcome is the result. In other words, if one is upset, one tends to view data that is received as the reason for upset feelings, whether or not it may have any affect or relationship. But if the data is there and has been reacted to inappropriately, then one has to go back and reexamine the information and perhaps its interpretation in order to disassociate the event from one's feelings
Ellis believed that one must look at the data objectively to see if it was directed towards one, or was totally unrelated. Critical examination of one's interpretation of data (self-talk, thoughts or beliefs) that supposedly has caused certain feelings (affect) may help one understand the dynamics of one's own response. Whereas it is hard to control other people and other events, one may certainly control one's own responses, since one produces one's own thoughts. It is up to each individual person to determine how he or she should respond to different situations. If one has had a distorted or dysfunctional response, one can critically examine and alter the interpretation and inappropriate behavior. Then one can logically dispute the interpretations and replace the cognitions (or thoughts about the event) with rational and functional reactions.
Glasser, a proponent of Choice (Reality) Theory, maintains that the client is internally motivated (to try and fulfill 'wants' and 'needs') and that behavior is 'total' and made up of four interconnecting components of acting, thinking, feelings and the physiology, each one accompanying the other three components. Acting and thinking are predominately voluntary; feelings and physiology are effectively changed through changing how the client acts and thinks. Additionally, Glasser states that "all of our significant conscious behavior," - that is, all behaviors that have anything directly to do with satisfying basic needs, - "are chosen" (Glasser, 1998) and that the choices that we make are perceived by us to be the best available choices at that time; even though we may later regret such choices and/or other people might perceive them to be ineffective, negative or antisocial etc. (Glasser, 2001)
The client retains responsibility for the behavioral choices he or she made and this is something that is emphasized strongly in teaching and practicing these ideas. Irrespective of the past, more effective choices can be made today and in the future. This truth is freeing. Choice (Reality) Theory is offered to replace what Glasser refers to as external control psychology, the present psychology of most of the world around us. This forcing, punishing psychology is destructive to any kind of relationship (be it between individuals, groups or even nations) and counterproductive to the quality and well being of virtually any kind of organization or enterprise. (Glasser, 2001)
Most of the modalities that have been examined herein and in past research have, as part of their theories, an examination of client goals.
Egan's model aids the counselor, as he or she helps the client focus in on short-term goals. Since the Egan model bases many of its tools on the empowerment of the individual, planning goes on throughout the process of working with others. (1998-301) Preliminary plans emerge out of discussions - words of what has to be done to make something that the client wants to occur come about. Plans to make a phone call, to obtain some kind of information, to talk to a friend about it; these are examples of preliminary planning. To help clients develop a response to a situation may not involve a full month of planning and keeping up with what has and will happen in order to reach a goal. Planning becomes part of a discussion.
Egan believes, there comes a time when one must sit down and map out future actions. Such times of organization - and what comes from them - are significant. Organizing future time helps clients that lack discipline from becoming overwhelmed by the future, provides for them means by which they may learn to prepare strategies; allow them to appreciate what is involved in planning and the obstacles they may meet as they move into the future. (1998-302).
For counselors using the Egan model, this may be a different sort of encounter with the client. The counselor may involve the client in brainstorming, making lists of different possible actions, and providing structures for forward thinking (perhaps involving them in different exercises or activities that illustrate this way to think). It may also may involve counselors helping the client to develop a new understanding of what this kind of thinking may mean in terms of actual formal planning.
Egan's model strategies for action for the client involve participating in the activities that need to take place if the client is to turn priorities into 'problem-solving accomplishments' (Egan 1998-29). In other words, working with the client to figure out what sort of planning and then action they need to be doing in order to get what they want. Egan suggests three aspects that interconnect:
Possible actions are: Working with the client to find ways to reach goals. The client asks him or herself: 'What do I need to do to get what I want?'
Impulsive and unplanned action. This is often unsuccessful. The client may claim…[continue]
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