Ofer's Auto-Ethnographic background

After 15 years of working with hundreds of struggling children and adolescents in various settings, and after completing my MSc in Psychology, my colleagues, trainee therapeutic tutors and patients repeatedly recommended that I put my methods of therapy on paper and suggested that I write a Doctorate thesis on the subject. This would allow other therapeutic tutors and therapist to read about my methods and consider putting them to the test with their patients.  It would also make my methods somewhat more “legitimate” since even I myself could see that they were unconventional. When I began my EdD course, my teachers and supervisors also took an interest in my work but then began my turmoil over how I could present my research. They all said, “You must have a theory that you utilise in your work”.  They claimed that I was keeping my theory secret as either I did not want others to utilise it, or that I had not yet managed to figure my theory out properly myself and put it into words. At first, I argued that I did not work according to any theory.  This made sense to me as I began my work with children in roles in the education system and as a youth leader, and later as a mentor, long before I had completed any formal training in psychotherapy.  I was and still driven by my passion for helping these misunderstood children for reasons I described in my previous biographic paper. During this early period, I read enormous amounts of relevant literature on my own account, but my work was mainIy intuitive and based on my previous personal and professional experience.

However, I listened to my learned supervisors and my colleague Anat and spent the next few years trying to figure out my theory. I examined countless theories and methods of the leading psychoanalysts who have published their work till today. None of them was similar to my methods, and together with Anat, we ruled out one theory after another. This is not to say that there are not valuable and useful elements in all these previous, highly praised and utilised psychoanalytic theories, but none of them were similar to mine. Moreover, I realised that every case, which I treated, was so entirely different from the last that finding a common theory for all of them was almost ridiculous, and the idea even offended themselves and me!  In presenting my thesis, I can only describe the methods, which I use to gather information, process my insights and plan management. These vary greatly from case to case, but there are some initial steps, which I make in most cases. I do it in order to quickly achieve insight and plan speedy intervention, which is often essential when treating volatile teenagers.

Being a professional practitioner, a psychotherapist, I use my own personal experience, knowledge accumulated from academic studies, scientific research and my own personal interpretation. I cannot avoid using my own personal interpretation in my practice for it is the only thing that exists in my consciousness (in real-time) while practicing my profession. I must acknowledge it, understand it, learn how it affects my own decision-making process and more than that, I have to be very careful not to mislead myself into believing that my own personal interpretation is more than a construct(model, framework), based on my personal experience and database in order to help me navigate myself through life.

This paper is primarily about our perception of reality, since understanding, this issue is fundamental to understanding, of my method of therapy.  I consider here the discrepancy between my perception of reality and your's as the reader.