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The Beautiful Risk, Book Review Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1222

Book Review

The book The Beautiful Risk inspires a Christian vision in the use of psychotherapy. The author, James Othuis believes that traditional forms of psychotherapy do not focuse on the individual needs of clients. He states that clients should not be labeled and fixed; but encouraged to find their own way in a caring environment (55). Othuis presents the theme of his book as a spiritual psychology. He believes that all things on earth are intertwined and related as a result of the love of God. Thus, Othuis’s psychotherapy concentrates in building relationships between individuals and God. In this therapy, the client is referred to as a therapeut (a two way caring relationship between a therapist and client) (61). Othuis believes that in addition to creating a meaningful therapist and therapeut relationship, it is essential to create a comfortable physical climate that can encourage therapeuts to work through their past and present issues.

In the first section of his book, Othuis discusses the spiritual model of psychotherapy.  He encourages the use of a care (compassion) model when therapists of modern psychology are treating their clients (48). The premise in the care model is that therapists should honor, care, and love their clients rather than using control or manipulation methods.   In this model, Othuis also inspires therapists to “take a risk” and “be with” their clients (the word with is used to describe covenantal interactions in the bible).

Section one also describes a central relational paradox.  This phrase defines the ways an individual may associate with others in an effort to avoid personal risk. In doing so, Olthuis believes that individuals may create a false self to use as a defense mechanism to self –protect from emotional harm.  From this idea, Olthuis creates the me-myself-I model. In this model, the individual (or therapeut) presents three life stories:

  1. The “I” story;
  2. the “me” story; and
  3. the “myself” story.

The “I” story focuses on what is going on in an individual’s life today.  The “me” story is an accumulation of an individual’s thoughts and beliefs that he or she creates over time. Finally, the “myself” story is the original story of the authentic self (78).

The second part of the book describes the characteristics (keys) of the caring therapeutic relationship. The first of these therapeutic keys is welcoming and blessing.  Olthuis encourages therapist to welcome clients in a warm, caring manner. He states that doing so may ease the client’s fears; and encourage a trusting relationship.  In addition, Olthuis advises that providing a heartfelt welcome can encourage God’s presence during therapy (109). Other keys of the therapeutic relationship include Authenticity; Attunement; Safety/Belonging; and Trusting the Process.    

The final section of the book discusses the four Spirals of Healing that therpeuts must endure to complete their road to healing. The first spiral, Letting-in, a trusting, safe relationship forms between the therapist and therapeut. During the second spiral, Letting-go, the therapeut lets go of false beliefs and defense mechanisms. Then, the therapeut and therapist work on developing a new “story” of faith and being.  In the third spiral Letting-out, the rebirth of the authentic self takes place. Lastly, Letting-transform allows the therpeut’s passion to be reborn; thus, transform life and relationships.  According to Olthuis, the therapeut is then ready to “dance in the wild spaces of love” (116-214).

In the postlude, Olthuis discusses forgiveness. He states that some individuals have anger or anxiety issues because they feel that that can’t forgive or accept forgiveness from others. Olthuis cautions therapists to take the pressure of the client by not encouraging a forced forgiveness.  He believes that given time and guidance, an individual can forgive and accept forgiveness during the Letting-transform stage of therapy when they are ready to transform relationships (236).

Reaction

In this moment, I fear that many human beings have lost the ability to care and love. It could be because we don’t interact as we did in the past due to creations in technology. The American family as it was in the past does not exist.  So where are our children learning about values and morality? How are our children learning to be kind or to love?  I believe that for some children television and video games are the answer. Society needs to provide a solid foundation of love and caring if we are to endure.

With that being said, I agree with Olthuis in that many of modern therapists are diagnosing and trying “fix” patients rather than offering kindness, compassion, and love. Many psychotherapies and treatments follow set guidelines with no consideration for individual needs. I do feel that modern psychotherapies do have merit in most cases, but many of them are missing a vital piece- compassion.

Olthuis encourages therapists to “take a risk” and “be with” their clients.  I like the concepts, but I wonder if in some cases boundaries may become an issue. I am trying to place myself in this Christian based therapy and I see the client (in some cases) getting too dependent on the therapist. In situations where the therapist and therapeut become close, transference could also be a problem. Then, the question could arise whether or not the relationship is violating ethical standards.

Another concept, the central relational paradox, is a well thought out concept and is appropriate to use in most types of psychotherapy. Based on my experiences and observations, individuals tend to create a false self so that their feelings can be put aside, or avoided. Then, beings may learn defense mechanisms to cope with everyday life. The I, me, and myself stories are an excellent way for therapeuts to realize how their belief systems impact their life; and to discover different paths to self-wholeness with the support of God.

The Four Spirals of Healing is an intriguing concept as it encourages therapeuts to resolve their issues and work towards a new beginning. The therapist is caring and supportive throughout the process and encourages the therapuet to reach the therapeutic goals of caring and trust; re-storytelling, the re-birth of passion; and transformation into a new life.

It is my belief (based on the information in this book) that a therapist can have an abundance of knowledge about the process of psychotherapy, but may not be effective because they lack compassion, caring, and love. Olthuis discusses “a good enough therapist” (117). He describes this type of therapist as being kind, genuine, and strong. The “good enough” therapist does not judge the client, nor does he/she pretend to be an expert.

To conclude this review, I want to discuss the central theme of this book: love. I understand the ideas of caring and compassion, but the idea of love in this context puzzles me. I feel that love is different for everyone based on our unique perceptions and individual realities. As I read the book, I think that Olthuis uses the word love too freely. Upon arriving at the last two paragraphs of the book, it becomes clear to me that love doesn’t have to have meaning. It is all around. We show love through caring and compassion. . According to Olthuis, “Love is not something we create or we do. Love is something bigger than both of us, a gift we are called to receive and pass on. Love happens through us, in us, and to us” (236).

Reference

Olthuis, J.H. (2001). The Beautiful Risk: A New Psychology of Loving and Being Loved. Grand Rapids: Zondervan

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