Looking at the Big Picture: Thoughts for Best Practice


We all are multi-dimensional. Each and every one of us has varying facets of our lives and, for better or worse, must recognize that these components are interrelated and inseparable. It’s a fundamental component to take into account when interacting with others, whether you’re a parent, child, friend, spouse, teacher or therapist.


When a client comes to me it’s vital that my scope of that individual is comprehensive and holistic, that I see them as a whole individual who operates on multiple levels: physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually. While this “Big-Picture” approach to treatment seems inherent it’s easy to get hyper focused on one particular skill set or domain and lose sight of how our clients operate as a whole.


As I began to investigate further into this idea, my love for structure cried out for an organized framework for practice! I thought about this framework and how I could best support my clients (as well as me personally) in achieving “big picture” goals. As therapists it’s our job to zoom out and take an objective view of our clients…like when you look through a camera…with a wide-angled lens. And so, the WIDE-angled framework was born!


W – Worth. This first begins by presuming competence, acknowledging the seen and unseen behaviors and accepting clients for all their worth. When this occurs broad long-term goals begin to take shape and structured, measurable objectives are established. Feeling a sense of worth allows for us to find meaning and purpose in our lives and serves as the catalyst to achieve the seemingly unattainable.  


I – Independence. This is the consummate goal in therapy, where clients work therapists out of a job. It’s about equipping clients to function on their own to the greatest of their ability.


D – Determination. This is where the true grit of our scope of treatment comes into play. Determination is double sided. To achieve goals, clients must be determined in their responsibility to adhere to their treatment plan and work the steps. Likewise the work of a therapist requires determination to continually seek out best practices for clients, to never stop being innovative in treatment delivery and persevere through the challenges that present themselves along the journey.


E – Empowerment. The “zoom out” button. Empowerment extends beyond the treatment room. It’s the result of worth, determination and independence alive and thriving within a client. It’s the shift from the extrinsic motivation to one within. Most importantly It’s authentic with long-last effects. When a client feels empowered they are confident in the strength they possess to tackle the steps necessary to fulfill their potential.  


As we incorporate the WIDE function of the lens we also change our angles of perspective. The complete picture is always one that illustrates it all…the physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual. It’s the whole person. The big, beautiful picture.