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My Therapeutic Philosophy
Marlene Talbott-Green, Ph.D.

     “The good life is a process, not a state of being.
It is a direction, not a destination." ~ Carl Rogers

In identifying myself as a Counselor and Psychotherapist, I have to say first that these terms generally cover several distinct ways to “do” counseling and practice psychotherapy. Sometimes the term psychotherapist is a catch-all category of mental health professionals, and counseling is something various different disciplines can do, ranging from attorneys to pastoral counselors. So, I want to be specific – I am a licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in the state of Ohio - and we have our own particular licensing requirements that we have to meet, but we are still a diverse and interesting lot. Counselors in this sense are “special.”

I am an eclectic therapist who develops a treatment plan for the particular individual. I draw on theorists whose clinical implications I have formulated into a coherent paradigm that allows me maximum freedom and choice.

Theorists who have informed me primarily are:

  1. Carl Rogers
      Capacity of the individual for self-perception, self-esteem, self-directedness

  2. Abraham Maslow
      Existential therapy and self-actualization

  3. Rollo May
      Existential therapy and self-actualizing values, use of Arts in psychotherapy

  4. Carl Jung
      Development, Individuation, use of Arts in psychotherapy, spirituality

  5. Carol Gilligan
      Psychology of women and moral development toward an ethic of care

  6. Martha Nussbaum
      Political and spiritual values, the place of emotion in Psychotherapy and
      an ethic of care

  7. Antonio Damasio
      Neuroscientist: the place of emotion in human cognition.

  8. Albert Ellis
      Cognitive-Emotive-Behavioral therapy

My Ph.D. was earned in part in the Ohio State University’s Department of Counselor Education where humanistic psychologist, Carl Rogers was a legend. He formulated his theory of person-centered therapy in that setting. He was the first psychologist to move the field of psychology away from the medical and scientific models of psychoanalysis and behaviorism, into the humanistic movement of positive mental health, and self-actualizing theory. Moreover, he was influential in developmental psychology, that is, human development over the life-time. He did not believe that human personality was determined by the first few years of a person’s life, but that one could choose to change at any juncture. This is what I believe.

Rogers talked about himself as a companion in the therapeutic relationship. The therapist accompanied the client on a journey toward the core of self and personality change. I also see myself as a companion, but I am more interactively engaged. For example, I give feedback about client perceptions, sometimes advice, sometimes advocacy.

In the active stages of therapy, I primarily use the technique of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In my experience, CBT works across the board to help clients understand the connection between thoughts, feelings and behavior, rational “reasonable” behavior, and irrational constructions of their everyday experiences. My aim is to free clients from unconscious barriers to self-actualization, from barriers to creative problem-solving, conscious choosing, free-willing and responsible human Being.

As Rollo May has noted, Existential therapists “aim to maximize a client’s freedom, free will, sense of choice, and capacity to pause between the stimulus and response and, in that pause, to choose the one response toward which we wish to throw our weight.” I teach CBT as a tool to recreate that “pause,” to break stimulus response bonds so that clients can enjoy new freedom to choose new ways of being. In order to do that, a client must understand the connections between thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behavior. A Rogerian therapist will give maximum attention to a client’s emotional development, as well as his or her powers of reason; so CBT is one of the few therapies that give full attention to emotions, as well as reasonable thoughts.

Antonio Damasio, neuroscientist (The Feeling of What Happens) has made clear to many the scientific place of emotion in mental health treatment. He maintains that while emotions can interfere with rational thinking, they are also essential to it, because without them we are not moved to act on what reason tells us. The purpose of therapy, then, is to unveil the emotion behind the reason. That is why applications of the arts in psychotherapy are so effective: the arts first appeal to the emotions and help make them conscious. So, for those who might like, I employ Biblio/poetry therapy to help people enlarge their emotional life and make the unconscious conscious.

In addition, Martha Nussbaum, a notable philosopher, along with Carol Gilligan, a social psychologist, have deeply influenced me with their theories about development over a life-time, their interest in moral psychology and the ethics of Care. Nussbaum’s “capabilities approach” for human development has strongly influenced my therapeutic methods. Gilligan has sharpened my thinking about social justice and the differential effects of class, race and particularly gender, on the moral development of women. Over time, these theorists have also taught me that political advocacy can promote healthier functioning. So, I urge my clients, who are disposed, to advocate publically and politically for causes important to them.

Spirituality is often left out of therapeutic concern. Yet, Carl Jung recognized that spirituality is an important aspect of human development. In fact, therapists increasingly believe that some so-called “mental disorders” are actually spiritual problems that can be addressed in therapy. In my practice, I do not pathologize spirituality nor do I lead clients in any particular religious direction. There are spiritual directors who do that. I simply honor any spiritual tendency that people want to explore, and help them explore it.

The Existentialists, such as Rollo May and Abraham Maslow have impressed me to honor the tragedies that occur in the lives of persons. This keeps me grounded and humble. Finding meaning, rather than mere happiness, is a tenent of Existential therapy.

  1. As Rollo May observed: One does not become fully human painlessly. The process of loving seems to bring to most of us the most exquisite pain, as well as pleasure.

  2. May says, “To love means to open ourselves to the negative as well as the positive - to grief, sorrow, and disappointment as well as to joy, fulfillment, and an intensity of consciousness we did not know was possible before.”

  3. Maslow said: “For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth - that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire.”

  4. From another Existentialist, Viktor E. Frankl, after imprisonment in a concentration camp: “I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”

The arts - poetry therapy, art, dance, music therapy – are powerful change agents used for healing and personal growth. Poetry Therapy and Bibliotherapy are relatively synonymous terms for using literature, both poetry and prose, as aids to diagnoses, treatment goals, and positive outcomes in therapy. In my 20 years of studying and applying Biblio/poetry therapy, I have found it most important for the therapist to be well-trained in both the arts and psychotherapy. Over the past 20 years, more academic programs have been developed to prepare facilitators to use these modalities effectively. For example, the National Association for Poetry Therapy confers professional credentials on those who meet their rigorous standards of practice, scientific theory, ethical code, and specific training requirements.

  1. "Good art wounds as well as delights. It must, because our defenses against the truth are wound so tightly around us. But as art chips away at our defenses, it also opens us to healing potentialities that transcend intellectual games and ego-preserving strategies.”
  2.                                                                                                         ~ Rollo May

Marlene Talbott-Green, Ph.D.
September, 2012

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Marlene Talbott-Green, Ph.D
36 W Short Street, Worthington, OH 43085
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