Expired The Soul of Therapy: The Therapist’s Use of Self in the Therapeutic Relationship

This lecture is part of the Ackerman Distinguished Family Therapy Lecture Series, designed to contribute to conversations on advancements and opportunities in family therapy training. Lectures are free and open to the public. CE contact hours are not offered for this series.

Program Description:

Dr. Harry J. Aponte’s perspective on the person self of the therapist is based on the premises that the conscious, active and purposeful use of self by the therapist in the therapeutic process is an essential aptitude in establishing an effective therapeutic relationship, and that this therapeutically purposeful use of self can be trained in a systematic manner. In this lecture, he will attempt to identify the contributions of the “what and how” the use of self by therapists contributes to the therapeutic process.

First of all, therapists’ use of self is meant to be viewed as a Common Factor as defined by Sprenkle, Davis & Lebow (2009), which is a perspective about the effectiveness of therapy that “asserts that the qualities and capabilities of the person offering the treatment are more important than the treatment itself”. Secondly, the use of self by therapists emphasizes developing the skill set of the therapist in the conscious, active and purposeful use of self as is in the moment of the therapeutic engagement with clients, and does so without denying the importance of therapists working to resolve personal issues of theirs that may interfere with the therapist’s professional effectiveness. Therapists’ use of self gives particular emphasis to the purposeful use of self as is in therapy’s relationship, assessment and interventions whatever the therapy model supporting Sprenkle et al.’s challenge of the notion that “what causes change in psychotherapy is primarily the unique ingredients in therapy models and techniques .” Thirdly, the use of self represents an aptitude that can be developed and refined through well elaborated structures for schooling therapists in the therapeutic use of all they bring of their personal selves to the therapy relationship including through the use of their human vulnerabilities as they exist at the moment of empathic engagement with clients.


Harry J. Aponte, MSW, LCSW, LMFT is a family therapist known for his writings and workshops on the person of the therapist, spirituality in therapy, therapy with disadvantaged and culturally diverse families, and structural family therapy. Dr. Aponte was a staff member and teacher of family therapy at the Menninger Clinic, and subsequently Director of the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center. Currently, Dr. Aponte is Clinical Associate Professor in the Couple & Family Therapy Program of Drexel University in Philadelphia. He has a private practice in Philadelphia, and conducts training and workshops throughout the country and abroad.

Dr. Aponte published Bread & Spirit through Norton, a book that speaks to therapy with today’s poor in the context of ethnicity, culture and spirituality. Dr. Aponte and Dr. Karni Kissil have edited a book entitled The Person of the Therapist Training Model: Mastering the Use of Self, published by Routledge (2016).

  • October 29, 2021
    6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Harry J. Aponte, MSW, LCSW, LMFT

Location:   Online Event


A link will be emailed to you one day before the event. Online events are held in Eastern Standard Time (ET).

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