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Substitute Need Strategies

Insufficient separation of needs and substitute needs is one of the most frequent mistakes that can be found in counselling literature. Here is one example: “I would like to become more successful, more confident, more popular etc.”. Whenever people want something, one should examine what function this ‘something’ has. Substitute needs are characterised by the fact that they avoid something. Those who fear closeness, might, instead, seek admiration, those who feel inferior, might seek success and power, those who fear failure, remain at home, those who fear rejection, make sure they are indispensable. “What do you need that for? Why is this important to you? How would you feel, if you had it?” Such questioning techniques help to explore the function of the client’s concerns and goals. Goals which calm fears should result in the processing of the fears, and not in the achievement of the goals. Therefore, the counsellor needs a clear concept of needs regulation if he does not wish to advise the client wrongly, because the reference framework is inadequate. Otherwise the client, with help of the counselling, reaches his goal, and everyone is surprised why he is not satisfied. Only the meeting of needs, not the meeting of substitute needs, creates satisfaction.



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