In some cases, a person may for example see self-actualization as a reason to perpetuate an abusive or oppressive relationship. My task will then be considerably complicated. If I for example believe a person to be in mortal danger because of his or her self-actualization beliefs, I will need to involve the police, other legal, or social services.
Such issues may also require me to testify in court or during informal hearings. In such cases, I will obviously be unable to respect a person's views of self-actualization, as these are distorted either by abuse or by years of indoctrination. When the necessary help has been obtained to help such a person understand the true nature of self-actualization, I might be able to resume therapy. However, the relationship of trust that I built up may be undermined by the fact that legal services were involved, or that I testified against what I saw as unethical behavior or abuse.
In my profession, my intention is to focus upon teenagers and young adults. This population group most appeals to me because of its vast potential. I believe that working with young minds in order to help them fulfill their hopes and dreams in life will be an extremely rewarding experience.
Teenagers are on the verge of choosing a career and creating for themselves a useful niche within society. Several challenges however face them. Peer pressure may lead to things like drug abuse, unprotected sex, crime and gangsterism. I will help teenagers to deal with these pressures by creating for them a safe space in which to talk about it and organize their thoughts. I believe that many young people simply need some guidance on working out their self-actualization process, and in particularly accepting and approving of themselves prior to seeking acceptance from others. If I can help teenagers accept themselves in the first place, I believe this will help them greatly along the way of self-actualization.
For young adults, the pressure is no less severe. They are at the beginning of their studies or career. They need to prove themselves in the professional world and deal with greater workloads and responsibilities than had ever been the case before. This often leads to great amounts of stress, which could in turn lead to problems such as drug and alcohol abuse.
The self-actualization process of young adults are in fact underway in terms of their studies and their careers. However, the stress they experience as a result may cause them to find solace in destructive substances. I can then play a role in helping them to deal with the source of these problems, and provide them with a safe environment in which to talk about it.
In working with teenagers and young adults, I will strive towards a focus upon positive action, while not condemning any actions that I may see as negative. I will simply create a space for persons to come to the realization of what it is that they need to strive for in their self-actualization process. The potential of this population group is vast, and lends itself perfectly to the Person-Centered Model.
With teenagers and young people perhaps more than any other population, problems may arise from the use of the Person-Centered Model. At its core, the model is one that promotes an unconditionally positive relationship between the therapist and client. The therapist is therefore not to openly or blatantly criticize any actions committed by the client. However, such an accepting attitude, along with the belief that all clients fundamentally strive towards self-actualization, could lead to a false sense of ethics.
A therapist's positive and non-critical relationship with a teenager may for example lead to an exacerbation of unacceptable actions such as unprotected sex or violence. The client may for example come to therapy sessions for the purpose of proudly displaying his or her conquests.
Young adults may be encouraged to remain in abusive relationships or to continue using wine instead of exercise for the purpose of dealing with excessive stress levels or tyrannical bosses.
Problems may even extend to issues such as theft, rape, or murder. The problem particularly with teenagers is that they tend to be extremely vulnerable to whatever suggestions they choose to accept. The therapist's conversation in the Person-Centered Model could then be taken concomitantly with peer pressure to mean an acceptance of the unacceptable actions they have committed thus far. In this way, an incorrect attitude towards self-actualization may result, and the therapist needs to take urgent action to mitigate this.
Young adults may be less vulnerable to falling prey to illegal actions, but could engage in actions that are no less destructive to themselves personally. Indeed, their distorted self-actualization process could focus more closely upon the constructive things they are attempting to do, such as work or studying. An excessive amount of either could be seen as the correct path towards self-actualization because of apparent acceptance by the therapist.
Awareness is the key in dealing with the above problems. Before beginning my work with teenagers or young adults, I need to be aware of the things that are important to them. Before then working on the self-actualization goals themselves, I might focus on the need for acceptance, and focus on providing clients with a platform on the basis of which to accept themselves. An emphasis on self-acceptance as opposed to acceptance from others is vital in this regard.
Teenagers often rely heavily on acceptance from others with a severe under-emphasis upon self-acceptance. Peer pressure therefore functions as a primary catalyst for distorted self-actualization in the form of violence, drug addiction, and other forms of self-destruction. This can also be seen as a problem in the lives of young adults. They are so focused upon being accepted by the world in which they work or study that they also under-emphasize the need for self-acceptance. Self-actualization for the whole population is then focused upon external acceptance, which is the core of the problem.
To remedy these problems, I need to understand that they are perceived in a unique way by each person. Through conversation, I will then determine whether the client has a sufficient basis of self-acceptance to continue the path towards self-actualization. If an unbalanced perception of acceptance is found, I need to help my client work on this before proceeding towards the actualization process.
In conclusion, I believe that my main role as therapist for teenagers and young adults will be to provide them with a way to acceptably express and actualize themselves. This group of people plays a core role in developing and advancing the country, and indeed the human race. For this, they deserve the highest level of care and understanding. It would be supremely satisfying to my own self-actualization…