In my view, as I look back over the last 30 years of being a therapist, I notice how much more human and humane therapists have become and how much more personal the therapy process has become. The momentous impact of more humanistically and transpersonally-oriented therapies has actually revolutionized the kind of therapy that is offered and the kinds of therapists who provide it. I believe that, more and more, consumers of therapy are coming to know that their therapist can only take them as far as she or he has grown in life themselves. Modern therapists are far more attuned to the need to work on and resolve their own personal issues, in order to be effective and helpful with their clients.
Over the last 20 years, God (in the form of Higher Power) has been let into the therapy room. In the past, there was an artificial and stilted separation of spirituality from therapeutic growth. Now, there's more of an understanding of the need to integrate and honor one's spiritual self -- there is a growing diminishment of that sense of split from spirit, soul, and emotional self. More and more, we are coming to understand that the issues we face, the problems and dilemmas that we encounter in ourselves and our relationships, are meant to help us grow -- to grow into the loving beings we were born as. This process of growth into love is the province of both therapist and client.
Over the last 20 years, we have come increasingly out of the closet of denial: therapists and clients alike are more willing and likely to stop idealizing family of origin relationships. People are more able and willing to see -- and feel the pain involved in -- the various forms of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse that is so staggeringly prevalent in our society. The therapy profession has facilitated this expansion of awareness and emergence from denial by increasingly embracing the "growth model" for human development versus the more medically-oriented "pathology model."
Finally, the emergence and rapid proliferation of the 12-step recovery movement has helped, and is helping, multitudes of people to emerge from isolation, to join with others for mutual help and support. The diversity of 12-step programs are all grounded in a common, optimistic vision of human development, a development grounded in telling the truth, being true to one's self, developing community, and actively cultivating one's relationship to one's Higher Self. The 12-step recovery movement, combined with humanistic and transpersonal therapies, is encouraging the birth and growth of a new humanity, a more gentle and compassionate humanity that will be our saving grace.
Jason Saffer, MA, MFT is the Co-Director of the Center for Creative Growth in Berkeley, California and is one of the Center's senior therapists. Licensed as a therapist in California since 1976, Jason is a master therapist, specializing in individual and group therapy. Jason created and hosted a cable-TV series, "The Community Health Connection," a series of 10 half-hour episodes to promote community mental health and well-being. He has been featured as a therapeutic expert on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” and has served as an editor of the Journal for Psychological and Spiritual Integration.