Person of the Therapist
Friday and Saturday, April 27 & 28, 2018
9:00 AM-5:00 PM
The International Conference on Person of the Therapist is the first major professional meeting of its kind to be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the United States Constitution and the world famous “Rocky” steps. The emphasis on the person of the therapist comes at a time when evidence-based treatments are elevated as best practice. At the same time, the world is divided strongly along the lines of race, religion, sexual orientation, class and gender, begging the question of how do we deal with the sameness of humankind yet the difference of experience and context. Person of the therapist refers to the embodiment of therapists as the instrument of change. Therapy is conducted through the therapeutic relationship, which requires a personal connection between the therapist and the client. The therapeutic process, regardless of modality, technique, and/or strategy, is dependent upon the human connection formed between the therapist and client—the therapeutic alliance. Person of the therapist training aims to prepare therapists to make proactive and intentional use of the self in clinical practice and supervision.
The Person of the Therapist Training (POTT) Model founded by internationally renowned family therapist Harry J. Aponte is unique because it aspires to help therapists embrace their humanity through acceptance of their flaws and core personal struggles—“signature themes.” Therapists are encouraged to learn to manage their signature themes, not seek to cure them out of shame and a sense of inadequacy for being wounded. POTT is not model specific and can be adapted for use with all approaches, including evidence-based treatments. It is the complementary part that speaks to how the model, simultaneously, opens up to therapists their own signature themes. Therapists’ core personal struggles are akin in the common human elements of their brothers and sisters around the globe, enabling therapists to relate to the complete persons of the clients in their sameness and difference to them. Here resides the opportunity and challenge to all therapists to integrate into the therapeutic process both the intimacy and tensions residing at the very essence of the vital relationship that is the medium through which we do therapy. Person of the therapist offers therapists a pathway for opening up to their own experiences, social locations, and values that then releases them to fully engage and understand clients who have different experiences based on where and how they are situated in the world.
Despite many of the evidence-based treatments being studied prominently in marginalized populations, part of the therapeutic context is the therapist and, as such, therapists should be intimately aware of their personal experiences, values and biases and the role they can play in therapy. Seeing the clinical applicability ofboth-and with POTT has the potential to improve the efficacy of treatment with all clients and to help therapists of every orientation to be more self-aware.