What You Need to Know about Psychotherapy Approaches

On December 2, 2012, I spoke at a parenting conference to a pretty good-sized audience given that it was only a month after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area. After the panel of therapists was finished with small breakout sessions, a sampling of them met for a Q & A from the audience. I was one of them. The audience had some good questions. I was more interested in hearing how my fellow therapists were answering those questions than in giving my own answers. However, a question arose to which I could not resist responding. The questioner wanted to know how to decide which type of psychotherapy approach to use in therapy for his child. I explained that family therapy, as opposed to psychology, operates on the principle that people are not sick and don’t have “diseases.” Therefore, taking his child to a family therapist would have the advantage of not placing a stigma on the child or the family. Furthermore, I was ready to add that he and his wife would be given effective tools to use with their child. No sooner had the first words left my mouth then the moderator, a psychiatrist, cut me off. Standing at the podium and speaking with passion, he told the story of a person who went to family therapy without success because that person had an undiagnosed medical condition. “So,” he concluded, “it is better to go to a psychologist or medical professional.” Until that moment, I had no idea that other psychotherapists felt threatened by family therapists. Talk about a learning experience! It now seems to me that giving readers...

Holistic Psychotherapy: A Different Way of Viewing Problems

REPRINTED BY PERMISSION from Natural Awakenings, pp. 14, 15, 19 She walked into my office, a picture of personal torment. Hounded by memories of unspeakable things, involved in one bad relationship after another, and hating herself more by the minute, she could easily have been labeled with a heavy-duty diagnosis right out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. That’s the bible that every therapist has to use in order to collect reimbursement from insurance companies. Except that holistic psychotherapists don’t label people. People deserve better than that. Diagnosis Should Not Favor The Negative Behavior Over The Positive Why should clinicians see the people-glass as half empty instead of half-full? A diagnosis is nothing more than an inventory of how a person is functioning. A “whole” picture should not emphasize the negative over the positive. If I were going to place labels on that lady, I would want to focus on the strength she showed in just making the call to see me, the courage it took for her to free herself from damaging relationships, the insight she showed in recognizing the role of her past, and the wisdom she showed in setting new goals. But strength, courage, insight, and wisdom are not in that diagnostic bible. Too bad. If there were such a thing as a Diagnostic Manual for Capacity to Manage Under Tough Circumstances, those words would be in it because a holistic approach capitalizes on a person’s resources- what the person does right, not what he or she does wrong. Does a holistic problem definition ignore the problem?-No! A holistic psychotherapist is not a...

Postmodern Ethics and Our Theories: Doing Therapy versus Being Therapists

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from Guilford Press for the Journal of Systemic Therapies, vol 18, number 4, pp. 18-41. Abstract Theories are often an object of contention in the family therapy field. Confused therapists can mechanically follow models, produce too many negative outcomes, or burn out. Theories are not to blame. Neither are therapists. It is the way in which they are related that makes for the quality of therapy. We have an ethical mandate to choose a model that fits our personal beliefs. This paper describes a process for creating our theories to fit ourselves. When clinical practice is a reflection of one’s deepest values, one goes beyond doing therapy to being a therapist. As a field, family therapy seems well defined. Authors perceive it as a separate discipline from other forms of psychotherapy (Framo, 1996; Lee & Sturkie, 1997; Shields, Wynne, McDaniel, & Gawinski, 1994; Stanton, 1988) especially given the increasing utilization of social constructionist, postmodern thinking (Bailey, 1996; Fruggeri, 1992; Gergen, 1991; Hoffman, 1988). The definition blurs, however, when it comes to specifying what it takes to be a family therapist. A good place to turn for an understanding of how to do therapy would seem to be theory because theories should provide focus for our work (Hardy, 1994; Taibbi, 1996). Instead, the subject of theory is a constant source of contention. For example, there is the decades-old debate on influence and power (Goolishian & Anderson, 1992; Simon, G. M., 1992, 1993, 1994; Simon, R., 1982). This is just one of many conflictual theoretical issues (Amundson, Stewart, & Valentine, 1993; Atkinson & Heath, 1990; Coyne, Denner, &...
Show Buttons
Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkdin
Hide Buttons