Post-Modernism View of Human Nature and Basic Characteristics
Postmodern approaches have been described by theorists as a result of evolving complexity of human understanding; postmodern minds are ones which are inquisitive whether reality is ordered in a manner in which humans’ reason. There are several postmodern theories that have had influence in psychotherapy. Social constructionist theory is one such theory which has had an impact in psychotherapy. This theory suggests that what humans understand is constructed through interactions with others. What individuals attach to any given behavior, interaction or event will be determined by the social and cultural contexts in which they happen. Some social contexts that could be relevant may include; family, racial or ethnic affiliations, religious affiliations, work settings, areas of residence, and others (Shedler, 2008).
Post-Modernist Therapeutic Process
The process of postmodern therapy starts by examining the clients’ knowledge and theories regarding the problems that made them seek therapy, rather than assessing how clients’ fit into the therapist’s theories about psychological problems, diagnostic categories, and change (Shedler, 2008). Clients are questioned by therapists based on the need to know more about what has been said or finding out what is not known. Thus, therapist might ask clients how cultural differences have contributed or limited their relationship. Therapists create understandings of clients’ situations and culture based on mutual, collaborative construction of meaning (Archer, 2006).
The common therapeutic goal in this approach is expanding descriptions and knowledge about the presenting concerns. Therapists are required to be observant and should be able to describe situations or behavior. They should also know how to explain them. When doing their work, therapists may remain open to, and assist generate new possibilities. This enables therapists to generate opportunities for new and different understandings. These provide them with new problem solving strategies (Shedler, 2008).
Applications of Postmodernism Therapy
Major Techniques and areas mostly applicable
Postmodernism approach encourages systems thinking which has enhanced the practice of psychotherapy and resulted in a new theoretical and technical approach referred to as family therapy. The development of family therapy created distinct theories, techniques and modalities. Postmodernism theoretic concepts run parallel to the intrapsychic role approach and psychoanalytic concepts which are learned in training by focusing on interchange dynamics between individuals. This approach views systems theory not just as a treatment technique, but as a modern way of human problems conceptualization.
While other theorists treated clients in strict isolation from the bad environmental, family, and other influences, postmodern therapists called upon clients and families to attend therapeutic sessions together. Postmodern therapies observe all family members and examine family structure, interaction, behavior, and process; rather than concentrating on the treatment of the one individual in the family (American Counseling Association, 2005).
Evaluation of Postmodernism approach
Limitations and Contributions
Postmodern approaches have contributed to the rise of family therapy. The approach’s encouragement of systemic thinking has re-conceptualized the practice of psychotherapy. It focused on the dynamics of interaction between individuals. Postmodern therapy involves both clients and their families in the therapy sessions, sometimes incorporating several generations of a family in treatment. They observe all family members and study family structure, interaction, behavior and process. They looked at treatment not in any one individual but in the operations of the whole family system (Archer, 2006).
Postmodernism approach’s systems’ thinking has contributed significant insights into the structure, functioning, and dynamics of family interactions (Jackson, 2006). However, the approach has paid little attention to the relationship between the family system and the therapists interacting with it. Therapists in this approach tend to study family systems from without forgetting that they too were within the system of interactive relationships which actively influences the observed behavior of their clients. Systems are supposed to be therapeutic relationship itself existing between families and therapists. Another major disadvantage of this approach is that the actual clinical conditions of observing the family affected seriously their behavior and interactions and thus, blurred the therapist’s findings (American Counseling Association, 2005).