A TRA (relationship therapist) specialising in the creative non-directive approach developed by Colette Portelance, develops the necessary qualities required to help an individual find well-being. My second article discussed the importance of listening in therapeutic accompaniment. This article will focus on how a therapist’s ability to guide an individual to self-acknowledgement is significant to the individual discovering their self-worth.
The word acknowledgement is derived from the Middle English aknowen which means ‘to confess knowledge of’. The individual comes to value themself through knowledge of self. To achieve this, Colette Portelance makes the following statement regarding a person who is experiencing a devaluation wound:
“The human being who has been devalued all their life will have difficulty finding within themself the source of their own self-esteem. Man needs first to be recognized in order to recognize himself.”1
If, she asserts, all humans have a fundamental need to be recognized for who they are, it is of even greater importance in people with a devaluation wound. The lack or absence of recognition from their educator, judgments and criticisms they experience, as well as their own self-devaluing judgments, can keep these people in a cycle of perpetual devaluation.
In my professional experience, it is of paramount importance for a TRA(relationship therapist) to develop their ability to guide a person to self-acknowledgement. The TRA must recognize the person’s strengths and resources as the individual reveals themself, exceeds their limitations, leaves their comfort zone or successfully completes a task or project. During the therapeutic process, an individual with a devaluation injury requires the guidance of the TRA which allows them to become conscious of their inner and exterior resources. The more the therapist sees and reflects back the individual’s reality, the more the individual will eventually be able to build a self-image which will allow the development of internal evaluation.
Inspired by Carl Rogers, the creative non-directive approach affirms that each individual possesses the resources required to evolve, create and develop their full potential. The person in therapeutic accompaniment provides information about their strengths and resources. In turn the role of the therapist is to be a benevolent authority and to valorise the person.
I would like to share a story from my professional practice.
For patient confidentiality, I will refer to the client as Sophie. Sophie has a tendency to judge herself and has difficulty recognizing her true worth. Her self-deprecating self-image is completely contrary to the beautiful qualities I observe as she speaks to me about her work, her successes and the challenges she successfully meets. Sophie is unhappy with her job due to a lack of recognition, despite efforts to reconcile the situation with her employer. She has decided to look for a new job.
During one of our sessions, Sophie expresses her nervousness over an upcoming interview for a job she’s been wanting for some time.
In tears, Sophie said she felt unable to attend the next day’s interview, that she was feeling under confident and would not know how to answer the interviewer’s questions. I leaned toward Sophie, looked straight into her eyes and said, emphasizing everything I knew about her, “I trust you! You have all the qualities that a good employer looks for; you are hard-working, honest, authentic, you like collaborating with a team, you care about others and are always ready to be of service, you are competent, trustworthy, intelligent and are highly skilled.” Despite having difficulties recognizing her qualities, Sophie nevertheless felt touched by my acknowledgment. With a sigh, she said, “I would never be able to express myself like that, as you have just done.” After a moment of silence, her face lit up and she said, “I could write this down tonight and practice expressing myself.” Her solution made me smile, I said, “I am impressed by how you find solutions to accomplishing your goals when you take a moment to reflect.’’
By reflecting Sophie’s reality as an employee back to her, my therapeutic approach led her to uncover the true vision of herself in terms of her strengths and qualities, and empower her to find solutions in order to successfully present herself at her interview.
I now invite you to take a moment for self-reflection. Are you able to acknowledge yourself, to recognize your qualities? If yes, is there an important person in your life who made you feel that you are acknowledged and seen? Whether it was a parent, a teacher, a family friend, you have definitely been acknowledged during your life. The need for acknowledgement is fundamental and valid, it deserves to be maintained throughout our lives however this is not always an easy process. We all need to be recognised and acknowledged several times before achieving the ability of self-recognition. As a person in a position of authority, a parent, an educator, a caregiver or an employer, are you concerned about meeting the acknowledgment and recognition needs of your children, students, clients or employees? As a TRA (relationship therapist), I have the ability to understand the issues and challenges related to acknowledgment needs. I am also able to accompany you towards the development of your full creative potential and self-fulfilment.
My next article will focus upon another quality I believe is essential for a TRA (relationship therapist) to develop, the ability to believe and trust in the creative potential of the client. Lastly, I leave you with a quote from Jean de La Bruyère, a 17th century philosopher:
“There is hardly in the world more beautiful excess than that of recognition.’’
- PORTELANCE, Colette, Relation d’aide et amour de soi, Éditions du CRAM, page 148.