Types of psychotherapy - II

When you hear about other kinds of specialized treatments such as "Brief cognitive therapy", "Brief psychodynamic therapy", "Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy", or variations on these names, remember several things. First, any successful psychotherapy will uncover the same issues in your life, whether the babble is about "irrational belief systems" (cognitive therapies) or "underlying feelings" (most others). The important thing is that once the therapy gets under way, you should be hearing things that make sense to you, that intrigue you; these should lead to the kind of revelation I described above (Why psychotherapy) which give you the power to make the changes you want.

Second, let me share with you what I learned about a lot of these kinds of psychotherapies as I studied them over the years. Yes, they all contribute to my stock of therapeutic tools and techniques; they have provided valuable food for thought and ways of thinking about patients. As therapies unto themselves, I noticed an interesting pattern. They are often presented in a book written by the therapy’s creator, and these books frequently have the same structure. The first half or so talks about the theoretical orientation behind the therapy, the motivation for its development (often the author’s dissatisfaction with other forms of treatment), and almost invariably how widely applicable and remarkably successful the treatment is. The rest of the book gets into specifics of how to do the therapy, on whom it is most and least successful, and the results of research into the treatment.

What usually emerges from this second half of these books is the fact that despite the claims of the first half, the treatment only works on a limited and usually ideal kind of patient, one whom I certainly never had the fortune of seeing -- someone with, say, a phobia but no anxiety about anything else, someone with depression but no hidden anger and resistance to treatment, someone with obsessive-compulsive symptoms but no hidden anger or attitude of defensive entitlement. (The last is, believe it or not, a very common stumbling block in the treatment of OCD; if it is not addressed and made conscious, the treatment usually fails.) We know from other sections of this website that there is no such animal. These treatments are great in theory and often sound quite plausible. In reality people and their resistances are usually much too complex for any of them to be used in isolation. That’s probably why most therapists are more flexible, adjusting what they do to fit the person sitting in front of them.

Types of Psychotherapy - Psychoanalysis

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