In developing my model of working with clients, which is a constantly evolving process, there is one principle that comes up again and again: Everything is an opportunity. I see this as mostly an exciting prospect, although this also creates a lot of responsibility and hard choices at times. For the purpose of this article, I am going to assert that everything is an opportunity for growth. What is possible when this is the perspective I take as a clinician working with clients and if the clients can also embody this as well?
I will suggest a scenario, a client is struggling with a depressed mood most days. I am working with them on observing their thought patterns and I give them the homework to see everything that happens for one week as an opportunity to grow. When they speak with their partner, children, teacher, employer, and therapist this colors every conversation. When one of these individuals tells them that they are not listening, this could evoke anger. From the perspective of growth, what a great opportunity to be able to see an area to improve their relationship. A client or employee tells you that you are being bossy or controlling, what a great growth opportunity for you to see how you can improve your contribution to the morale of your workplace!
Let’s take a look at the other side, if you take these same scenarios and see them as obstacles to your growth. You are told you are not listening and it becomes another thing you are not doing right in the relationship and you become angry and distant or stop communicating. Then you are informed that you are being controlling and this becomes an obstacle for you to be able to complete your work effectively and give instructions in the workplace or help your client meet their goals. The same scenario, opposite outcomes.
Looking at my work with clients, when I can come from a place of opportunity to grow, I find that clients reach their goals more efficiently and are able to have better and more fulfilling relationships. There is nothing more gratifying in my work then to see clients achieve the goals that bring them a sense of purpose in their lives. They are able to continue to grow far beyond treatment given this tool and teaching them to apply it in their everyday experiences.