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On Being a Master Therapist: Practicing What You Preach

On Being a Master Therapist: Practicing What You Preach

Jeffrey A. Kottler, Jon Carlson

ISBN: 978-1-118-28241-0

May 2014

304 pages



Learn from master therapists and bring your skills to the next level

Bringing a breath of fresh air to the therapy profession, this compelling and thoughtful resource urges readers to move from competency to full mastery in the mental health field. Combining the findings of hundreds of previous studies, interviews with a wide range of master therapists, own unique experiences and perspectives, Jeffery A. Kottler and Jon Carlson have devised a guide that takes therapists out of their comfort zones.

Professionals in the fields of psychology, counseling, social work, and human services, as well as graduate students studying for these professions, will find a level of honesty and candor in this resource, which tackles a range of essential topics in a frank, personal tone, and closes with a meaningful discussion about the challenges of striving for mastery. Master therapists and authors Kottler and Carlson explore a range of hot-button topics, such as:

  • Cultural misunderstandings
  • Disliking your clients (or having clients dislike you)
  • Receiving negative feedback from clients
  • Injecting creativity into the therapeutic process
  • Finding time for social justice and advocacy

On Being a Master Therapist provides a much-needed look at a range of topics that aren't often given such genuine and insightful treatment, with the goal of helping you attain the attributes that truly distinguish excellence in clinical practice. Start on your journey toward mastery with this thoughtful resource.

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Preface ix

Introduction: Two Variations on a Theme 1

1 What Is a Master Therapist AnywayAnd How Do You Get to Be One? 11

What Is a Master Therapist? 13

Different Standards of Mastery 15

Client and Therapist Perceptions of Outcomes 18

Definitions of Mastery by Experts on the Subject 20

2 What We (Think We) Know So Far 25

A Movement Toward Consensus 25

What Does Make a Difference? 28

Talking to the Masters 34

What Famous Therapists Appear to Have in Common 38

3 Deep Compassion and Caring 45

Creating Connections 46

Commitment and Investment 52

The Growth Edge 57

4 Sophisticated Interpersonal Skills: Really, Really Listening 61

“How’d You Do That?” 65

Little Things Make a Huge Difference 68

Listening Differently 71

Being in the Moment 74

5 Being Fully Present While Focusing on the Other 75

Altered States of Being 79

Mind Chatter 80

A Way of Being 84

Staying Present With Ourselves 87

6 Knowing What Maybe/Probably/Mostly Makes a Difference 89

What Makes a Difference? 91

Beyond Understanding: Honoring Magic and Mystery 108

7 Speaking the Truth 111

Lies in Therapy 112

Confronting Deception 113

Hard Truths 118

Taking Risks and Exploring the Unknown 123

8 Making MistakesBut Not the Same Ones Over and Over 127

Making Mistakes Isn’t the Problem 128

Practicing Self-Compassion 133

Most Common Mistakes 136

Mistakes or Just Data to Process? 141

9 Inviting and Responding to Constructive Feedback 143

Sources of Feedback 148

Clients Are the Best Teachers 149

Feedback That’s Most Helpful 150

Processing Feedback Gratefully 151

Being Accountable to Ourselves, Our Colleagues, and Our Clients 153

Life-Changing Feedback 157

Recruiting Master Coaches and Mentors 158

How We Know What We Know 165

10 Who You Are Is as Important as What You Do 167

Who We Are Versus What We Do 168

Qualities of Master Therapists 169

Practicing Self-Compassion 175

Modeling As Best We Can 176

11 Acknowledging Commonalities, Responding to Differences 181

Multiple Cultural Identities 182

An Individual’s Multiplicity of Cultures 183

What We Share in Common 188

Metabolizing Theory and Embracing Complexity 189

12 Love Is a Four-Letter Word in Therapy 193

Multiple Dimensions of Caring 194

Owning Our Personal Motives 196

Learning How to Love 197

Love Is Always Possible 199

13 Getting Wild and a Little Crazy: Promoting Creative Breakthroughs 205

When Models and Theories Limit Our Creative Options 206

Sorting Out All the Voices in Our Heads 209

On Being Creative 211

Seeking New Knowledge While Embracing Mystery 214

You’ve Never Heard of the Most Creative Therapists 218

Thinking Differently About Problems 221

Where Has Creativity Gone? 224

14 Promoting Social Interest and Advocacy 227

Who Has Time for This? 228

Real Master Therapists in Action 229

Consistent Themes Related to Advocacy Efforts 236

Let’s Be Honest, Really Honest 237

Full Circle 240

15 Being a Work in Progress 243

A Voracious Curiosity 244

Confronting Despair Versus Hope 246

What Has Been Most Helpful Along the Way 250

What Has Been Least Helpful Along the Way 257

It’s About Relationships, Not Content 259

Mastery Means Being Able to Accept Mystery 261

Epilogue 265

References 267

About the Authors 279

Index 281