Monday, September 2, 2019

Pscyhotherapeutic fads

Question: When it comes to psychotherapy why do some therapists seem drawn to techniques which are fads that come and go?
Answer: Having been in the field 50 years now I have watched so many fads come and go with all kinds of trainings and certifications and egotistical claims that my type of therapy is better than yours because I have learned this recent technique and have been certified to deploy it.
The belief in magic is alive and well in our psychotherapeutic field among practitioners who have forgotten what Helen Harris Perlman taught us back in the 50s that good “casework” as it was called by Social Workers way back then is all about the “helping relationship.”
I have been reading Stephen Bacon’s book about Practicing Psychotherapy In Contructed Reality in which he suggests that the therapeutic variable might be the therapist’s “charisma.” Using Bacon’s idea, I suppose that if a therapist thinks his or her certification in the lastest therapeutic fad gives him/her more confidence and “charisma” and it fits for the client, then maybe the certification is an advantage, but I suspect that this misfounded belief in a magical technique just as often, or even more often, undermines a therapeutic connection especially if the technique is not perceived by the client as all that relevant.
I had a client tell me last week that she left her therapist because all the therapist wanted to do to her was EMDR and she didn’t see the point. The therapist, she said, didn’t seem to want to listen to her so she sought help elsewhere.
I got a PESI brochure last week for a workshop leading to certification in “tapping”. Wow! I guess if EMDR doesn’t work, there is always “tapping.” It seems odd that professionals with at least a Master’s degree and sometimes a Doctorate are enamored with this snake oil.
It is difficult to find good psychotherapy, sometimes, in the psychobabble hurricane which surrounds us.
What works in psychotherapy is not techniques, but the attentiveness and listening skills of the therapist. Does the therapist want to hear your story and ask you questions to further clarify the events, experiences, and meanings in your life? Does the therapist ask about and seem interested in helping you develop a preferred story in which you envision your better self and your better life? This exploration of your existeing life story and preferred story takes time and attentive listening. In this process, therapist and client, couple, family, group join together to pursue a better life free from egotistical concerns that can frighten, sadden, and anger. Good psychotherapy should result in peace and joy and a significant reduction in chronic anxiety and tension levels.

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