Flow Theory and Psychotherapy
Lydia Missal, LCPC
During this presentation, we will explore how flow theory can enhance the therapeutic relationship and increase our effectiveness as clinicians. Flow theory, or the psychology of optimal experience, teaches us tools about how to access a greater conscious awareness about our human experience that we can share with our clients.
During this presentation we will define, explore and discuss how flow theory, the psychology of optimal experience, can be incorporated into the therapeutic process. The flow state is the experience of being completely absorbed in the moment. In the flow state, a person loses track of space and time and becomes fully engaged in the here and now. We can access this state at any point and while doing anything if the right conditions exist. I believe we can access it during relationships. Due to the fact that a large part of success in therapy is the therapeutic relationship, we will consider how the power of accessing the state of flow, through this relationship, might enhance our effectiveness. If we can be more effective, clients will feel better, more competent and engaged and it’s a win win. Additionally, and in general, the state of flow is extremely healing for people because it offers a natural form of perspective taking and, after the experience ends, it's something to look forward to having again. People also seem to feel more confident in their ability to re-engage in difficult or challenging life experiences because it's like they just had a short mental vacation. Over the past 15 years an observed common denominator of all therapeutic interventions and techniques I’ve participated in with clients is the desire to feel connected and engaged to life in a meaningful way. This presentation will give a framework for how to support our own capacity to access the flow state as well as gather ideas about different ways to incorporate it into our own practice. Flow theory in psychotherapy invites us to make this connection.
1. Define the definition of the psychology of optimal experience.
2. Explain why flow theory can enhance the therapeutic relationship.
3. Understand the conditions that it takes to create a state of flow and be able to name the two main variables that impact it.
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