The goals of therapeutic work: deficit correction or development promotion.

Fiammetta Giovagnoli


This article intends to suggest some reflections on the goals of psychotherapeutic work. In a recent research carried out by the Faculty of Clinical Psychology on the representation of the psychotherapy demand, an interesting dichotomy between two ways of interpreting therapy emerged: the first one strongly oriented to the classification of the client in descriptive categories, and to his inclusion in the "normality" envisaged in the theoretical reference model; the second one more oriented to the creation of a relation where the therapy goals can be shared with the client (Paniccia, Dolcetti, Giovagnoli & Carli, 2005).
The two representations recall the debate on the cultural models of our profession . In the second case, more oriented to the client's development, the medical model of deficit correction, present in the first case, seems not to be reflected. "Working at client's development" does not mean knowing in advance the direction of the development process. The goal does not consist in achieving the final target as it is in the theoretical model, but in increasing the ability to direct this process starting from the client's development targets. The use of the term "client" refers explicitly to the beneficiary of the psychotherapeutic work, a person with goals and skills, therefore having a specific, new and variable demand. Development implies the direct participation and commissionof the client, in contrast with the representation of psychologic work as a technical performance of professional knowledge which the client is dependent on. A difficult, puzzling goal for anyone looking for immutable laws and firmness in the psychologic procedure, for anyone who finds it hard to give up a representation of the profession as linked to power. 
The purpose of this article is to trace the meaning of this goal within the strategy of action used in a clinical case.

The article is divided in to two parts. In the first one, the case of E. will be presented and some theories on the problem which motivates the psychotherapy demand will be put forward; in the second one some elements of the strategy used will be analyzed.

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Rivista di Psicologia Clinica. Teoria e metodi dell'intervento

Rivista Telematica a Carattere Scientifico Registrazione presso il Tribunale civile di Roma (n.149/2006 del 17/03/2006)

ISSN 1828-9363