by Dr. James Strohl

    To be an effective therapist and healer, how much we know is basically irrelevant. However, it is supremely important that we genuinely care about those we wish to assist and believe in their ability to realign, heal, and prosper. Maximum therapeutic benefit is realized when clients recognize these qualities in us and, more importantly, find them to be presently active.

    The unquestionable value of caring and faith in facilitating healing is well documented. However, the clinical application of these elements can be complex. We want to care enough about others to empower them to change while not taking responsibility for changing them. It is unproductive to attempt to facilitate healing in those who are not personally committed to changing their attitudes, beliefs, and circumstances. Armed with this awareness, along with a bit of clinical experience, therapists can readily learn to recognize when a person is ready and willing to take responsibility for changing.

    Ideally, when a client demonstrates a lack of readiness or willingness to change, our relentless caring, unconditional positive regard, and confidence in their future outlook will remain intact. Sometimes, resisting change is an ideal behavioral response at a particular moment in time. True caring is unconditional and continuous.

    To maximize the healing process, it is of utmost importance that both the clinician and client believe in the client’s ability to be happy. Faith in a positive outcome is more readily established if we are directly experiencing a positive feeling at that moment. This can be accomplished by helping clients focus their attention on positive thoughts, memories, and perceptions. There are simple, practical ways to do this. For example, depressed people can be invited to take a walk outside with an intention to appreciate the warm sun, fresh air, gentle breeze, clouds, trees, birds, etc. In conjunction with this type of activity is it helpful to teach clients the value of intentionally directing their attention. We want clients to know that where they place their attention, along with how they feel in relation to that focused attention, determines the reality they will experience. In other words, where they place their attention, energy, and focus determines the reality they create. Everything that they have experienced, are experiencing, and will experience is a result of the attitudes, beliefs, expectations, and feelings inside of them.
    <br< Knowing what one wants and expecting to get it, maximizes the chances of manifesting that particular want. Contrary to popular belief, success is not based solely on the amount of psychological energy and behavioral effort we direct toward changing and eliminating problems. When change appears to take a long time, it is often because we simply needed a long time to get to the point where all elements of our being became aligned with the changes we desired.

    When attempting to help another reach their goals it is important to know where they are placing their focus, attention, and energy so that we are not fighting an uphill battle. In addition, if there is no hope and expectation that positive change can and will occur, there will be little or no positive change. Clients create positive changes when they direct their focus away from what they don’t want, redirect their attention toward what they do want and desire, and then expect their desires will be fulfilled.
    <br< In brief, positive change occurs when a person reduces conflict and resistance by directing their attention toward their desired goal and aligning their attitudes, beliefs, expectations, and behaviors with what they want.

    All people will benefit from relaxing, being easy about change, and simply letting it flow easily and naturally. Changes can happen in a timely, smooth, graceful manner. This is a valuable message to provide those we are attempting to assist. Change doesn’t have to be hard, time consuming, laborious, or painful. Yet, change will have these qualities of effort and burden if we believe them to be necessary and expect these qualities to manifest.

    Most of us have developed a belief that change is effortful, hard work because we have been trying to change ourselves and others without considering the importance of recognizing where we have placed our attention. The reality we create is determined by where we place our attention. Positive change is difficult when our attention is continually directed toward avoiding, challenging, and reconfiguring negativity and pain. Focusing on negativity and pain keeps us attached to these experiences while preventing us from bringing positive, pleasurable experiences into our perceptual field. Change can be quick and easy when we maintain focus on the positive goals we desire.

    Motivation is a complex concept that is consequential for the client’s transformation. The clinical and empirical data often emphasize the powerful, positive impact motivation has on positive change. Motivation can positively influence change and it can also be detrimental. Depending on the circumstances, assisting a person to become highly motivated can be one of the most ineffective methods for achieving positive change. Mustering a large amount of energy and asserting a great deal of effort to push against and through problems is not practical or useful. In many cases, energy and effort are wasted with this approach, which often results in disappointment and disillusionment.

    Clearly, developing strong motivation can summon a large amount of energy. However, if this motivational energy is pushing against resistant forces consisting of attitude, beliefs, and expectations that conflict with our desired goals, the result will be disappointment, pain and suffering. Bringing our thoughts and feelings into alignment with what we want is required for a smooth transition to a positive outcome. Motivation is helpful when we are aligned, in every way and on every level, with our desires.

    Most people believe that developing motivation for change simply means mustering up a great deal of energy in an effort to change. There is more to consider because the form and direction of the energy has a crucial impact on the results that will occur. Science teaches that positive energy flows naturally and spontaneously while negative energy resists movement. We experience positive emotional and physical feelings when energy is flowing naturally and freely. Negative feelings are experienced when the flow of energy is being resisted and blocked. Therefore, a large amount of energy is beneficial when it is flowing into an aligned, positive, dynamic, expanding, and creative manner. A large amount of energy is detrimental when it is flowing in a manner that pushes against resistant objects or forces, such as contradictory and negative beliefs, expectations, and behaviors.

    The principles of alignment and deliberate creating, as promoted by Positive Psychologists and Solution-oriented Therapists, tell us that our problems either won’t get resolved or won’t get resolved easily and quickly if we attempt to assert a strong force against the problem. Remember, for something to be considered a “problem” it must be resisting flow and movement. Therefore, exerting force against the problem will only fuel it with more resistance which will cause the problem to increase and grow.

    Even when we think we succeeded through hard work and effort, what really happened is that, at some point, we came into greater alignment by incorporating positive attitudes such as acceptance, trust, hope, positive expectation, non-judgment, and gratitude into our change process? Introducing these positive forces released and reduced resistance so that creative, dynamic energy flowed spontaneously and freely. Freely flowing energy feels pleasurable and moves people toward more positive life experiences.

    In conclusion, when positive cognitive, emotional, and behavior elements are affirmed and aligned, resistance is released and spontaneous, dynamic, creative, energy flows more freely. As stated earlier, naturally flowing energy feels good and through it we perceive people, objects, situations, and ourselves more positively. In its unencumbered form, the flowing vitality of life is experienced as joyful and fulfilling. Our chances of experiencing life in this way are vastly improved when we intentionally engage positive, productive, and pleasurable thoughts and perceptions. As therapists and healers, our ability to effectively care for others is greatly enhanced as we become more proficient at accessing and aligning with the positive potential residing inside of ourselves. Increasing our personal proficiency with these skills significantly increases the chances of successfully passing these skills on to others.