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Counseling Together

Therapeutic Collaborative Conversations  

Individual, Couples, Marriage, and Family Therapy

Jarfa Amirghahari Wabs, M.A. LMFT

(949) 357-0333

Counseling Together


What is PERSPECTIVE when we are talking about therapy

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (17)
What is PERSPECTIVE when we are talking about therapy?

So often, I think about this question when I am working with clients, and realize the importance of perspective in relation to the person and the "problems" we talk about.

When you think of the word "Perspective" and look up the definition in the English language, here is an example of a definition you might see below from Merriam Webster online...

Definition of PERSPECTIVE
1 a:  the technique or process of representing on a plane or curved surface the spatial relation of objects as they might appear to the eye; specifically:  representation in a drawing or painting of parallel lines as converging in order to give the illusion of depth and distance b:  a picture in perspective
2 a:  the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed <places the issues in proper perspective>; also:  point of viewb :  the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance <trying to maintain my perspective>
3 a:  a visible scene; especially:  one giving a distinctive impression of distance:  vistab:  a mental view or prospect <to gain a broader perspective on the international scene — Current Biography>
4:  the appearance to the eye of objects in respect to their relative distance and positions

It is interesting that "perspective" is defined on a visual scale to describe how objects might appear to the eye and also as a "point of view" but the definition that really hits home for me is "the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance"...

When you think about this meaning, it makes the definition sound very simple, yet when we are communicating with others and we use the term "perspective", we lose a part of this meaning it seems....

From my experience especially working with couples, I have come to know this word very well and use it often...I have noticed that people tend to dismiss the part of the definition that talks about "true relations or relative importance"..... to me, this means honoring the context of what is being discussed...

So often we take a stance on something or an issue... we have a "perspective" yet, we don't have the "true relation" or complete backdrop to that stance we just took...

It is like looking at a painting with blinders on....You miss each side of the painting and might essentially miss an important object or point that the artist wanted you to see...

When we take a stance on something in our relationships, we need to take into consideration the "context" of how the other is situating themselves against our stance...The other person's context or painting might include ideas around a topic adopted from their family values, their culture, their socioeconomic status, their gender, their friends view, and so much more....remember how much detail there could be in a painting...

A good question to always ask yourself is..."am I looking at the whole painting before I take a stance or pick a perspective?" or "have I spent enough time to investigate the context (backdrop) before coming to this conclusion?"

This step alone will help you communicate your view point to others around you without seeming like you have "missed something" and in essence offend your friends, family, or partner. 

Always taking time first to examine what needs to be seen will give you a new "perspective"
We as humans have many facets to us and it would be a shame to see each other "one dimensionally"....those facets that we have could be like looking at an unpolished crystal and every time you turn the rock or crystal carefully, you notice a new line or crack that you didn't notice before! It is not only more beautiful in its original form, but it is respectful to honor each side of this rock as you turn it to inspect it and appreciate it slowly. Each side tells a different story about where the rock has been and what it has experienced. Each story could carry so much detail about strength, endurance, character, and much more. Honoring each side would mean honoring each story as if it bears the same importance as the last story paying close attention to details that might have been previously missed....This is learning to see "perspective" at its best...

Honor each other, investigate carefully, communicate within the context, stand back and look at the picture in its full glory as the "Artist" intended it to be seen....

We are the "Artists" to each of our own paintings....

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are" Anais Nin
Maybe this is what needs to be changed!  The "Perspective" on these "problems"