Tag Archives: approaches to therapy

The Failure of Categories

Experience does not neatly fit into a category. If you tell me that you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, that communicates a list of potential criteria – mood swings, cycling, etc., but it does not tell me anything at all about your experience. When someone focuses exclusively on diagnostic criteria – your ‘symptoms’ – you become nothing more than a pathological entity. You are not merely a bundle of ‘symptoms.’ These diagnostic categories serve the pharmaceutical industry and the insurance industry, not you. Continue reading

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Psychotherapy: Clinical Supervision and Training

Clinical supervision is the primary training model for psychotherapists learning to be psychotherapists. Psychotherapists may be trained or supervised in the context of a particular theory, and trained to apply particular techniques based in that theory, but the best supervision … Continue reading

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Empathy is Not Enough

Empathy can be seen as the matching of feelings or the matching of minds. It can reflect compassion, recognition and communion. It reflects an emotional understanding of another person’s feelings or problems. The ability to be empathetic can be a … Continue reading

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Experiential Psychotherapy

Whether we can know anything outside the world as we experience it is an interesting philosophical question, but it has profound implications when we try to understand another person. This is particularly true in the context of psychotherapy and trying to help another person heal. Continue reading

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Advertising Psychotherapy: Attraction Not Promotion

Advertising typically presents an attempt at getting people to think, feel, or behave in a very particular way. For psychologists, most advertising used to be considered unethical, and it still presents a dilemma for a psychotherapist who wants to work and maintain a practice. If a therapist uses certain forms of self-promotion to convince prospective patients to “choose” him over others, he can be taking a position at odds with the actual work he needs to be doing. Continue reading

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Finding Meaning: Existential Psychotherapy

The existential approach to therapy is based on helping people find meaning in their lives, and avoids trying to apply external objective criteria and schemas. In fact, the struggle for all of us is to put our lives and life histories in a meaningful context. This may be primarily an unconscious emotional endeavor for some, but for others it may also be important to find an articulable structure or credo. Without a meaningful way of making sense of things, we are almost by definition left with a deep sense of emptiness and a feeling of an inner void. From there we are often left with nothing to do but despair and feel hopeless. Continue reading

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CBT and the Zeitgeist

CBT is a popular therapeutic style, now. The fad. In my view, lasting change of an important type cannot come from such goal-directed, externally-driven exercises. CBT relies on a logical and linear system, and in my experience, people in fact act globally and their actions represent the final common pathway that grows out of a gestalt of their drives, desires, needs, and unconscious and conscious processes. True change arises from an appreciation of complexity. Lasting change involves integration of different aspects of your personality, of understanding why you do things, of unfolding and deepening your understanding of yourself. Effective work with a good therapist involves facilitating change, not directing it. Continue reading

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