Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Therapist Types: The Confrontationalist

These are the overbearing I-have-all-the-answers counselors.  They listen only long enough to figure out what you need to be told.  The bulk of the counseling is directive and educational.  The direction might come from a defined theoretical perspective or it is often simply a hodge-podge of common sense and non-sense.

This is still the industry standard in drug and alcohol counseling where 12-step provides the material for indoctrination.  Input from clients is allowed so long as it follows the prescribed 12-step path.  Any wayward or contradictory beliefs expressed by the client about their own life and motivations are met with staunch correction from the counselor.  Independent thought is labeled intellectualization, rationalization, denial, “escape into health,” and such.

There are also Confrontationalists in mental health counseling.  The temperament and relationship is similar to the 12-step based counselor, but the content may be different.  Confrontationalists may impose a medical model or use reality therapy or any number of different approaches, but it is always delivered in a confrontational and directive manner.

Confrontationalists are the tough-love counselors who may tell you that you’re the boss but the unspoken message is: “My way or the highway.”  If you deviate, you feel like you are being corrected.  Any insight you express about your own inner life is squashed and replaced by common adage dressed up as psychological theory.

The Confrontationalist Symptom List
  • Loud or authoritative tone of voice
  • Interrupts
  • Talks-down-to
  • Educates
  • Directs
  • Poor listening skills
  • Imposes a model of therapy regardless of whether it fits the clients needs
  • If the client is argumentative he or she is re-educated or may be booted from therapy.

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