Many of the thoughts and ideas that were presented by Becvar & Becvar (2009) did not really come as a surprise to me. Several of these thoughts, although not discussed as much in other theories, did not seem as foreign as they may seem at first. Much of what they try to explain as different ways of thinking in regards to some of the thoughts, really are not new or unusual, they just seem to be foreign in the aspect of what most students think therapy is truly about. If we were to look at each one of these ideas closely, we could see that they truly are not as complex as they seem. After struggling for the last week on how to write this response, I realized that not only is it more about the way we see these topics and how we would use them in family therapy, but it is also how we interpret them as well.
Using the Basic Ingredients to Create Recipes Appropriate to Each Client System
The ideas and thoughts behind even the phrase “using the basic ingredients to create recipes appropriate at each client system” can be complex if just thinking about what the theme may mean. Although we normally have not looked at such a concept, at least not in my courses previously taken, it seems simple enough when such an idea is thought through and dwelt upon for a period of time.
When thinking about the idea of creating a recipe designed as client specific, I see this as the entire family going to dinner at a restaurant. Simply put, each member of the family sstem places their order of what they would like to eat and the meal is prepared for them and brought to their table. If we looked at this in more detail and in more complexity, we can see that there are a lot of details into preparing a meal at such great lengths. For example, a few days ago my partner and I took our roommate and his grandson out for lunch at Chili’s restaurant. Now although Chili’s may not be the fanciest place to dine in town and much of their menu is probably pre-prepared, i.e. processed and prepared prior to being shipped to the restaurant frozen, it still takes some work to get these meals prepared. To make my point here, our roommate ordered a quesadilla salad, an iced tea and a beer. His grandson had crispy chicken tenders, french fries, and an iced tea. My partner ordered a jalapeño smoke house burger with French fries, an additional order of chili cheese fries, a Patron pomegranate margarita, and an iced tea. Finally, I had grilled salmon, sautéed shrimp, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and carrots, a strawberry mojito, and an iced tea. Now this may seem pointless to mention everything we had for lunch two days ago, but for this specific idea presented by Becvar & Becvar, it made sense.
Let us look at this as a family unit, since we all live together and are like a family. If we take each dish and break it down, it takes many different ingredients (components) to make this a proper tasting dish. If you left out one key ingredient, added the wrong ingredient, or added too much of one seasoning, it would imbalance the flavor of the dish and would not be a dish of satisfying worth. The same goes for therapy. If we as therapists, guide each client in the system in a wrong direction, i.e. misdiagnose them, give them the wrong types of treatment, choose the wrong set of homework assignments for the client, then we are making the recipe for success more like a recipe for possible disaster. For example, if I diagnosed Client N with Bipolar II Disorder and they should have been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the client would not get the appropriate treatment and the family as well would suffer the consequences of the indigestible treatment.
As we look back at the ideas of ingredients being used, as a child I once misread the ingredient portion of salt for a batch of cornbread. As we were doubling the batch, it was obvious that it would go from ¼ a teaspoon to ½ a teaspoon of salt. At that time we had not discovered that I suffered from partial dyslexia and I read the teaspoon as cup, which was for the next item on the list of ingredients. The cornbread appeared to be the best cornbread that my parents had ever seen when it came out of the oven, but one bight made all the difference. If one ill ingredient is administered to a client in the system for a wrong diagnosis or even for the right diagnosis, it could have repercussions one would not like and this could actually cause more harm than good.
This concept of basic ingredients being applied to the client system is a great tool for therapists and future therapists to grasp hold of and learn from. I believe that this concept should be taught to every individual coming into the field of Marriage & family Therapy. It appears that this angle and dynamic is a key point that students, as well as the professional therapist could learn to apply in therapy sessions. With this kind of idea, and being that I had the desire when I was younger to be a chef, and having been cooking for nearly thirty years, this concept is easy for me to come be and use in therapy. I could actually see my office with an array of seasonings and spices and helping people understand some of these ideas when the circumstance was suitable to do so.
How We Each Participate In Creating Our Reality
As I tried to find various ideas from this list of possibilities, it appeared to me that this was a perfect choice to mull over and write about considering my religious view and stand point at this time in my life. The idea of creating our reality is not a new concept to me; however it is still young in my thought development. For six years my partner and I have been attending religious services at the Visalia Spiritual Awareness Center, which was a Religious Science church (now a ‘Centers for Spiritual Living®’ {CSL} congregation). In our teachings, we learn various new thought practices that not only help us in finding our perfect spiritual paths but also help us in our everyday living as well.
It is this teaching that brought the idea of creating one’s own reality to the forefront of my thinking just a few years ago. We believe in CSL that each person is on a path to their spiritual perfection and that although we have been taught that we are not perfect, we are already spiritually perfect. By creating our own reality, one that we are involved in, we actually make a difference in our own lives as well as the lives of others. If we are unable to participate in creating our reality, we are not able to participate in our own recovery. This is a much more in depth thought process than the previous one I mentioned. Trying to explain this in a few words is not something that is easy to do, but for the sake of this paper and the length of time I will sum up the concept in as few words as possible.
Through our thoughts, emotions, and feelings we each experience life. It is because of these three main factors that each individual becomes just that, an individual. With our individualistic attitudes we are able to experience our individuality and express our reactions to things such as “what in the world am I supposed to write for this paper and how is it supposed to be presented?” Through our consciousness we each make our own choices and we take action on how we choose to live life. In the practice of spiritual living that I believe in, all of this comes about through our intentions. I would not be able to pass this course, or any other class, if my intention was not focused. If all I did was think I am going to get an A, and yet I never attended classes, never read any of the reading assignments and did not complete the writing assignments or any other homework assignment, to believe that I would receive an A would be foolish of me. If my intention was to get my Master’s degree and I didn’t do the work, it would get me nowhere.
It is the same with the client. If the client comes in and takes no initiative to help in their own recovery and they choose to create a reality of issues and not want to do the work to overcome those issues, they will not see the light at the end of the tunnel. By participating in creating ones reality, the client basically follows the same pattern as my spiritual path, but on a psychological level instead of spiritual level. Again, it is easy to see myself functioning in treatment sessions with clients using this thinking. It is not new in the sense of my spiritual wholeness and balance, but it is new psychologically and I hope that it will be a method that I can use with my clients on a regular basis.
What Is Going On/ The Logic of Behavior in Context
This idea is very foreign to me, but was the one I could understand the best of the remaining thoughts. It does not make complete sense to me, but trying to think it through and understand it, I seem to make more sense of it as I go along. As I contemplate what this means to me, I think about how we as the therapists look at the entire picture in the room. We have to look at the entire scene before we can sometimes understand exactly what it is the client system is trying to tell us. Several years ago I read a book entitled He Still Moves Stones (1993) by an author named Max Lucado. In this book he describes how each of us is like an individual painting; a Monet, a Van Gough, a Renoir, a Picasso, a Baker, a Mishler, a Camarena, a Siders. Each of us are as individualistic as the next person. If we look at a painting or piece of art, we each see differences that the others do not necessarily see. In this book Max Lucado explains this same idea through the chapters. Each chapter was written about a parable in the Bible as well as some parables that are similar to Biblical ones. The first story talks about how the person walks into a small theatre, from my gathering about the size as the largest room at Brandman University’s Visalia campus. In this room were various paintings resembling these parables, all of which were always in pairs; however there were two sets of paintings that did not resemble these parable stories. One of these sets was a painting of a bruised reed while the second was of a perfect reed by the water front. The next set was of a smoldering wick and its companion piece was a wick that had its flame burning brightly. All of these paintings were just as individualistic as we are.
When we look at our clients, we need to see that their story is just as different as the client before them and the client after them. They have a story to tell and we have to be receptive to hear it and see their painting as well. When we are open to such thinking we are able to help our clients paint their first picture in the first sessions and by the time we have helped them come to closure for the reasons they came in, and maybe others as well, we will have assisted them in painting a finished portrait as well.
This concept as I think about this book that I read so many years ago, that not only was a favorite of mine, but my grandmothers as well, has opened up even more as I write this. I believe this is definitely what I believe about Marriage and Family Therapy. I see this as everything we have been learning not only in graduate courses but even in many of my undergraduate work as well. It is because of this thinking that I would be able to implement this kind of idea in therapy on a regular basis. As an artist as well, I definitely could see this as a very common course in which I would implement with my clients.
Oh and one final remark about the paintings in the book that I was speaking about. Each of these pairs of paintings showed a beginning and an ending. It was always two paintings, both on separate easels and placed back to back, not side by side. In the first one it would tell of the tragedy that had befallen the individual, such as an illness or in one case, a man who suffered from Dissociative Personality Disorder. In the second painting though, each person had been cured of their illness or disorder. The interesting part was at the end of all the stories he told, he explained that there was a pair of blank canvases with paints and brushes and that there was a sign asking you to paint your own story. This is something I could see happening in some of my sessions with some of my future clients.