East Asian Arch Psychiatry 2011;21:130


Resource Activation: Using Clients’ Own Strengths in Psychotherapy and Counselling

Editors: Christoph Flückiger, Günther Wüsten, Richard Zinbarg, Bruce Wampold
Hogrefe Publishing
USD29; pp65; ISBN 978-0-88937-378-5

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There are different modalities and methods in psychotherapy for different kinds of mental illness. They usually focus on the psychopathology, the problems that clients have created, and the maladaptive patterns of their coping skills. The focus of therapy usually targets failures or negative part of the client’s persona. The purpose of psychotherapy becomes a means of adjusting or changing the maladaptive, cognitive behaviour and emotional patterns.

Some clients may find the psychotherapeutic process frustrating, as they are usually told about how they create their problems or become victimised by different events. Therapists would bring them to see their maladaptive minds or behaviours, recognise their accountability, and make changes. This problem-oriented approach often fails to address the pre-existing inner resources that have been utilised by patients before seeking professional help. This book focuses on how to activate the clients’ strengths and resources during psychotherapy sessions, cutting across a diverse theoretical framework of psychotherapy. It provides a simple yet practical manual for the psychotherapists and counsellors to assess the client’s ability in order to facilitate therapeutic change.

The first part of the book provides a roadmap for initial systematic resource analysis. We could know the client’s favourable life conditions, life goals, special skills, areas of well-being, helpful relationships, and so forth by asking appropriate questions. The responses could form the basis for understanding a person’s individual resources.

The second part of the book provides different resource-orientated dialogue strategies, in order to heighten the patient’s immediate positive emotional experience and thus to make it easier for that person to work through problems. Strategies including verbalising and experiencing resources, strengthening personal resources, focusing on problem-independent resources are all illustrated with different case studies. Practical-suggested possible questions are provided for different scenarios.

The last part of the book marshals different therapeutic resource-activating structural interventions that could draw the clients’ attention to their resources so as to strengthen them. Interventions including life overview, genograms and ecograms from a resource perspective, miracle questions and target visions are illustrated through practical procedures based on a clear theoretical framework. Potential difficulties in each intervention are also addressed.

Materials presented in this book are highly focused, yet still strike a balance to make the clinical approach to be applicable to a wide range of clinical situations. This short text is a handy resource for psychotherapists or counsellors from different schools of thoughts, and could facilitate assessing and activating the strengths and resources that their clients already possess. By integrating them with existing interventional methods, it engenders a more beneficial and positive experience for clients during psychotherapy. The resource-activating process may well be the fuel for sustaining therapeutic alliance, as clients feel validated, trusted, and empowered to re-story their lives.

Calvin Pak-Wing Cheng, MBBS (calvincheng1983@gmail.com)
Department of Psychiatry
Tai Po Hospital
New Territories
Hong Kong SAR, China 

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