This is an excerpt from our soon-to-be-published Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories in Context and Practice (second edition, 2012, John Wiley & Sons). It is, of course, like most theories textbooks, packed with subtle and less subtle humor. We even recently had a senior in college tell us that it was the first textbook he actually read cover-to-cover. Now if that’s not an endorsement of just how riveting a textbook can be . . .
The following excerpt is from the last chapter (Chapter 14).
A Concluding Image: Group Therapy with Some Amazing Clients
After reading and writing about so many great therapy minds, one of us (you can guess which one) had the following daydream: Imagine many of the historical and contemporary therapy masters gathered together in one location. They form a circle and begin a discussion. Old friends and rivals are reunited. Freud appears and shakes hands with Jean Baker, Miller who has brought quite a number of impressive-looking women with her. Fritz Perls tries to kiss some of their hands. Adler brings his wife. Carl Rogers signs a book for Prochaska. New friends are made, old rivalries rejuvenated. Insoo Kim Berg smiles quietly off to one side. Jung notes to himself that she must be an introvert. What might happen in this circumstance? What might happen in An Encounter Group for the Major Players?
After some initial mingling, the group process begins:
Rogers: I wonder where we might want to start.
Raissa Adler: Here’s where I’m starting. I’m not taking the minutes for this meeting. I did that back in 1912 for the Free Psychoanalytic Society, so I’ve put in my time. It’s someone else’s turn, and I nominate a male, any male. Women have been taking notes in meetings for so long it’s ridiculous. The problem with women’s psyches has more to do with oppression than repression.
Feminists: [Including Jean Baker Miller, Judith Jordan, Espin, Lillian Comas-Diaz, and Laura Brown—all of whom subversively snuck into the group] You go woman! We’re with you.
Freud: That’s it. Say whatever comes to mind.
Ellis: If you want to think that taking notes is oppression, that’s up to you, but as far as I can tell, you’re oppressing yourself with a bunch of damn crazy, irrational thinking.
Beck: You know Al, we’ve been through this before, but what I think you mean is that Raissa’s thinking that taking notes is oppression could be maladaptive, but not irrational.
Glasser: Raissa can choose to take notes or choose not to take notes. She can also choose to think she’s oppressed or choose not to think she’s oppressed. Personally, Raissa, I recommend that you read my book, Choice Theory. I want you to read it, and I think it will help you, but of course, whether you read it or not, that’s completely your choice.
F. Perls: Be here now, Raissa. Act out those feelings. Be the pen. Talk to the paper.
L. Perls: Fritz, she can be the pen without your assistance. If by chance she finds herself, that’s beautiful.
Ellis: She won’t find a goddamn thing in this group of love-slobs without a flashlight.
Skinner: Uh. Albert. I’ve been wanting to mention to you that if you could just keep quiet when people in here say inappropriate things, we might have a chance at extinguishing that particular behavior.
Ellis: Well, Burris, did you have an irrational thought that someone might actually care about your opinion before you engaged in that speaking behavior, or was it just a function of its consequences?
V. Satir: Albert, if you could just get up on that chair and talk down to Burris, I think you could get in touch with your placating style.
Skinner (Whispering to Ellis): Seriously man. Just ignore her. I’m talking about a complete extinction schedule. Just like I’m ignoring you – except for when you sit quietly and listen to me like you’re doing now.
Rollo May: Freedom and dignity are the essence of being. There’s far too much freedom, with very little dignity in this room.
I. K. Berg: If a miracle happened and we all got out of this group without anyone getting murdered, what would that look like?
A. Adler: My God, I just remembered an earlier memory. No wonder I felt so inferior.
Freud: I hate that word. I just want to be recognized for my contributions. It would make my mother proud.
Rogers: It’s like if only I can make my mother happy. And getting recognized, being remembered, that’s one big way you can have that experience.
Ellis: Siggy, my man. Let me just say this. That crap about being recognized and making your mother proud is the most f—ing ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life. What’s the big deal if everybody forgets you? What’s the terrible, awful, very bad thing that will happen? I mean, think logically about this. You’ll be dead and it won’t make a white rat’s ass difference if people remember you or not.
Feminists: That’s right. I can’t believe we’re agreeing with Albert Ellis. White males can afford to play with such big ideas. Immortality. Do you have a clue about the legacy you’ve actually left? There have been decades of girls and women with destroyed self-esteems. Do you recognize that they litter your road to “greatness”?
Mahoney: I can see Freud as great and I can see feminism as great. Even this lived moment in our genetic epistemology exudes the potential for greatness. We are not a passive repository of sensory experience, but instead, we’re co-constructing this reality right now.
Prochaska: This entire group seems to me to be in precontemplation.
D. W. Sue: Yeah, well, I might consider change if we could construct in a minority voice or two? Most of what I’ve heard thus far is the construction of a very narrow, White reality. Culture is primary, and we need to include color if we’re to meet the needs of everyone, including Raissa, who happens to have a strong Russian ethnocultural identity.
Raissa Adler: [Slowly stands and walks over and embraces D. W. Sue.]
Rogers: What I’m seeing and what I’m hearing, if I’m getting this right, is affection and appreciation. Two people who have, now and again, felt marginalized are able to connect more deeply with each other right now in this moment than with anyone else.
M. White: Actually, Carl, I think I’d just call this a sparkling moment.