Pay It Forward Therapy by Claudemir Oliveira
Back in 2000 when I first moved to USA, I had one
experience that changed my life forever. It has to do
with the movie Pay It Forward, and I hope one day I
can explain this "coincidence" to you in detail.
Concepts of Pay It Forward Therapy
The article on the right side was publised in July
2010, but the whole idea comes from the year 2000.
The article explains in details the concepts of the
theory and why I chose this name. Basically, I
had a dream to help thousands of people to cope with
their issues. More than a simple dream, I wanted
to provide some hours of my time free therapy for
people who could not pay the fees of a therapy
session. I based the theory on the value of charity
and voluntary work when dealing with problems.
It is important to mention that I have no
intention to promote free work from
professionals who need to make money; actually,
years ago, in my article "Counseling as a business proposition", published at the prestigious Counseling
Today from American Counseling Association, I stated
reasons why a counselor or any professional in this
field should be very well paid. So, do not misunderstand
me. For people who can pay the bill, there should
be no question about charging your service. but I
do have to say that my dreams go beyond money.
Researches indicate the benefits of charitable work.
So, I am not trying to reinvent the wheel, but the
theory has some differences on what have been
done so far in therapy. Below, I summarize
the basics of my appoach:
Basics of the theory
* Therapist (voluntary work) charges no fee
for the therapy
* Clients pay it forward with voluntary work and
indicate to at least three other people about the
benefits of doing it.
* Therapist will see client only and once voluntary
work is complete, i.e., it is mandatory, different
from normal therapy;
* Voluntary work has to be completed within
a maximum of 30 days from the visit;
ideally, weekly or every two weeks should
be the goal.
* Should never been seen as a "sacrifice", as
something "forced"; the word "mandatory" should
not be read literally. It is just one concept. I am
consciuos that it seems strange to use these two
words in the same context: voluntary and mandatory,
but trust me, it will be a "smooth" ride.
* 'Doing different types of voluntary work is
* More voluntary work = more psychological benefits;
* The topic of each session will be the experience
and reactions to their issues (20%) and voluntary
* The power behind the fact that both therapist and
client will be doing voluntary work should not be
underestimated; that may be one of the hidden
highlights of the theory; from client's perspective,
he or she "knows" someone (the therapist) is there
to help voluntarily; from the therapist's perspective,
I see the process as therapy for the therapist, even
Some "generalizations" of my theory
* Voluntary work will put into perspective the
issues clients are facing; there is NO
assumption that client's issues are "smaller"
than those issues faced by people they visit;
* Visiting a place where people are in
much need (even though clients will
choose where to go) may show more
benefits to the clients.
* The theory does not underestimate the
suffering of clients, has no intention to
make clients suffer to visit places
where people are in need or suffering.
The whole idea is to put into perspective
their reactions to what they are going through;
* Clients may be able to "finish" therapy
much quicker than normal therapy (this
is, actually, my main assumption);
* Use of Positive Psychology, Existentialism
as well as cognitive theories will be key for
this new concept;
* Pay it Forward Therapy concept will reach
thousands of people, and it is right there where
my dream resides, and for that more professionals
will need to buy into the idea;
* Schools of psychology have high potential for
introduction of this theory since students do not
get paid (in general) when doing their internship;
* Theory needs time for more research on the