On Harry Potter

Using Psychological Treatment with Harry

By Neil Mulholland, Ph.D.

I am a tremendous Harry Potter fan. As a reader, I revel in vicariously experiencing his triumphs and disasters and in imagining the adventures that this amazing young hero bravely jumps into while searching for his destiny. As a professional psychotherapist, though, it is even more intriguing to me to wonder how Harry’s travails mirror our own, and how the way in which Harry deals with his challenges, his enemies, and his own self-doubt has implications for those of us who are trying to overcome our own personal Voldemorts, Dementors, and painful scars.

If you are like most people, you have never experienced counseling or psychotherapy from a professional. However, if you have been fortunate in your life, you may have come across an older relative, a caring parent, a teacher, or a friend who believed in you and helped guide you on your way. You may even, like Harry, have had serendipitous “magical moments” when you met a stranger who, by what seemed pure coincidence, was able to help you in a crucial moment of life with just the right idea or gesture. At those times in life when such a person is not available, though, a trained counselor can employ proven psychotherapeutic techniques to help his clients bring about their own magical moments of growth and understanding. Although Harry Potter never officially received therapy, he had such a trusting and supportive relationship with Dumbledore that you might say Dumbledore was Harry’s best psychotherapist!

Of course, when reading the Harry Potter  …

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