Appreciating Differences - Jack Falt - Ottawa area, Ontario, Canada

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Book Review by Jack Falt

Adson, Patricia R., Finding Your Own True North & Helping Others Find Direction in Life, Gladwyne, PA: Type & Archetype Press, 1999, ISBN 1-878-287-38-9, 222 pp

This book is written for therapists to give them a new perspective on ways to work with their clients. Patricia Adson reframes the role of the therapist. She invites them to see their clients as heroes on a journey. The therapist is to help awaken the resources within the clients to continue their journeys and claim their own lives. The therapist is no longer in the role of the expert, but a type of journey guide. (This is not to negate the expertise required to act as the journey guide.)

When journeys and heroes are mentioned, it may conjure up the vision of archetypes. The author uses Carol Pearson’s Awakening the Heroes With: Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform Our World as the basis of her therapy. This shift in world view — from disease to transition — changes the role of the therapist. The book then sets out how a therapist might use these concepts with clients. The material is to be used as background for the therapist. It is not meant to teach clients that they are heroes on a journey but for the therapist is to treat them as heroes on a journey. In some cases clients may respond to the metaphor of the journey, but it is not necessary to be explicit about archetypes to make the therapy effective.

The book describes the twelve archetypes in the therapeutic setting and gives examples of clients relating to specific archetypes. Then it describes how the client used that information and moved on to the next step.

Pearson’s archetypes are grouped into three groups: the preparation for the journey, the journey itself, and the return from the journey. According to Pearson we all use the resources of our archetypes over our lifetime, within shorter periods of time, and even within the day itself. Likewise, facing a problem in our lives is like going on a journey that we prepare for, take the journey, and then return, bringing back what we have learned to enrich our lives and the lives of others. The author also tells of how she relates to the twelve archetypes in her own life. The therapist also has to go through the stages of the journey in their own lives so they can relate to the clients situation. The therapist also has to struggle with life’s problems. That is how the therapist has compassion for the client’s problems.

The therapist has to find out where the clients wants to go and once having determined this, the therapist then needs to guide the client towards his or her goal. This can mean assessing the stage the client is at and helping activate the appropriate archetype.

The book includes a case study giving a fairly detailed account of applying the concept of archetypes to a long term therapeutic situation.

It is also import for the therapist to be aware of the archetypes the client awakens with the therapist. This can provide helpful clues as to where next to move in the therapeutic sessions.

Changing the focus like this from thinking of the client in terms such as symptoms, labels and diagnosis to the concept of heroes on a journey helps the therapist to see the similarities between themselves and their clients.

This is a very readable book and worthwhile for anyone doing therapy or having an interest in archetypes. Even if you are not doing therapeutic work professionally, at times most of us are trying to help either ourselves or others. This model of heroes being on a journey can help you see where you are and where you should go. It is like looking at the map in a park that says “You are here.” If you don’t know where you are on the map, the map itself isn’t of much use. But once you have located yourself, you also need to know where true north is on the map and also in relation to yourself. Then you can see where you want to go and how you might get there.

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List of articles by Jack Falt