212 – Therapy and the Promise of Transformation

How Do We See Our Role?
William Doherty, Kenneth Hardy, Esther Perel & Richard Schwartz

We therapists are certainly in the business of helping people change, but are we also invested in getting them to experience transformation? Beyond relieving symptoms, is our mission to help clients reconceive their identity and shift into a new way of being in the world? After successful therapy, do your clients’ family and friends say to them, “I’m glad you’re back to your old self,” or instead “What a different person you’ve become!” These questions underlie many debates in our field, creating a sense for some therapists that they may be short-changing clients, and for others that we too often overpromise the benefits of psychotherapy. To launch this year’s Symposium, this session will use a panel of experts with varied viewpoints and a novel process of engaging attendees in a collective conversation to explore this issue. You’ll examine:

  • How your vision of yourself as a healer, problem solver, coach, or any other therapeutic role shapes your work with clients
  • The upsides and downsides of being a problem solver vs. a personal paradigm shifter
  • The changing expectations clients have today of what they want from us and for themselves in therapy


William Doherty, PhD, is director of the Minnesota Couples on the Brink Project.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: William Doherty is professor at the University of Minnesota. He has a relationship with The Doherty Relationship Institute.
Non-financial: William Doherty is a Fellow for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Mary Jo Barrett, MSW, is the founder and director of the Center for Contextual Change and the coauthor of Treating Complex Trauma: A Relational Blueprint for Collaboration and Change and The Systemic Treatment of Incest.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Mary Jo Barrett is the executive director and co-founder of The Center for Contextual Change, Ltd.
Non-financial: Mary Jo Barrett has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.

Esther Perel, MA, LMFT, is the author of The State of the Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Esther Perel is in private practice. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.
Non-financial: Esther Perel is a member of the American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA); The Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR); and the American Association for Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).

Richard Schwartz, PhD, is the originator of the IFS therapy model.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Richard Schwartz is the Founder of The Center for Self Leadership. He receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.
Non-financial: Richard Schwartz is a Fellow and member of the American Association for Marital and Family Therapy.

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