Rollo May – Northern Star

Rollo May Picture
Rollo May

Rollo May is one of my therapeutic influences and from time to time I find it helpful to check in on my influences like you would a compass or a GPS if you were hiking.  I do this just in case I’ve wandered off course or need to be reminded about my vocation.  I find that getting back on track is easy when compass adjustments come often.

The writing of Rollo May is one of my professional compass points.  He wrote the first book in the United States about counseling way back in 1939 called “The Art of Counseling.”  He revised it in 1989 and I love it.  When I first read it as a therapist trainee, I used it as a template for my treatment plans with clients.  His four principles we specific enough to guide me in my work with clients and also  philosophical enough for me meditate on as a trainee, an intern, and now a fully licensed therapist.

As most authors of therapeutic books that were written long ago tend to do, Rollo May highlights common experiences like anxiety, depression, and interpersonal conflicts in deep and profound ways.  May also gets very specific about his view of correct counselor behavior.  A good example is that clients should do at least 2/3 of the talking and the mere process of talking out a problem in front of the therapist is healing.

Today I was reminded of an interview Rollo May did in 1987 with Kirk J. Schneider.  My favorite part of this interview is May’s critique of modern therapy’s gimmick-like quality.  The Interview was later published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology.  I found a like to the article:  Rollo May on Existential Psychotherapy.