In Search of Self: My Therapy with Rogers, Satir, Bugental, Polster, Yalom, & Maslow

In Search of Self: My Therapy with Rogers, Satir, Bugental, Polster, Yalom, & Maslow

by Deb Hammond

A psychotherapy student assembles her dream team for guidance toward self-actualization.
Have you ever wondered what would it be like to work with psychotherapists who most of us have only read about, heard speak at a conference, or watched on video? Like many psychology students, I have often pondered the question of what it would be like to meet with the masters in our field. At critical crossroads of my life, I have wished for the guidance of these sages. In my mind, over the years, I have assembled my own personal therapist dream team: Carl Rogers, Virginia Satir, James Bugental, Erving Polster, Irvin Yalom, and Abraham Maslow. (I suspect each of us could construct our own cadre of master therapists.) What these therapists have in common is that they all value the importance of self-determination, autonomy, and the intrinsic potential for growth. They all seek to provide the optimal conditions for individuals to heal and grow, despite the pressures and circumstances of life. By helping to remove any obstacles towards growth, these therapists empower individuals as they let go of their symptoms and engage more fully in their lives.

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Deb HammondAfter following her head and receiving her masters in Chemistry from Stanford University, Deb Hammond (note, this is her pen name) decided to follow her heart and pursue her passion for psychology. She is currently finishing up in her masters program in Counseling Psychology at John F. Kennedy University. She is seeing clients as an intern at the John F. Kennedy Community Counseling Center and at West Valley Elementary School in Sunnyvale, CA. Practicing from a humanistic-existential framework, Deb strongly believes that her most important role as therapist is to help illuminate the client's self discovery and search for inner truth.
This piece was an immensely insightful and illuminating consolidation of core therapeutic approaches, illustrating how they are inextricably linked and effectively utilized at the same time. It provided a unique, efficacious learning opportunity for the reader, both conveying theory and demonstrating application in a compelling, concise format.
Jill Schneider; LMHC
Really an overview of the main ingredients needed for self-actualization! I enjoyed the article and the way in which it affirmed many of the beliefs I hold.
Elze Pieters
Interesting and fun article. If your session with Erv Polster is representative, though, then I would wonder how close it would actually be to a session. I have been to many training workships over 20 plus years with Erv and while he successfully focuses on making therapy understandable what also stands out is that most of the time what he is doing and what happens is humbling to most of us. I recognize from watching him in action or working with him myself that there is no subsitute for certain kinds of creative genius. He has often said practice, practice, practice makes us better, and there are moments when I think I could actually have done that better-but all you can do probably in an article like this is a basic stereotype. And actually the problem probably is that what these days gets underemphasized or ignored is that Psychotherapy is both a science and an art. It's the human artfullness and successful human contact that makes the difference, not so much the technique.
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CE credits: 1
Learning objectives:

  • Review perspectives on existential-humanistic psychotherapy from a range of noteworthy practitioners.
  • Explore aspects of the existential-humanistic approach as they are applied in the case of Deb.
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