Thinking Critically About Therapy
Stigma can affect us all in a myriad of ways.
But stigma can be most harmful if it keeps someone from seeking out proper treatment that could provide them with the emotional well-being that they have sought for so long.
Many, if not most mental health problems can be dramatically aided by finding the right combination of medication and talk therapy. As I am not a doctor, I’m in no position to speak about medications. As a therapist however, I can shed some light on which kinds of talk therapies work, which don’t and how to differentiate between the good, bad and the ugly.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
By far the most scientifically proven type of therapy for all sorts of mental health and addiction related concerns is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This type of therapy focuses on the negative thought patterns and ‘negative automatic thoughts’ that are the cornerstone of much of our anti-social thoughts, behaviours and attitudes.
The beauty of CBT is that when properly delivered, it can provide an immediate reduction in anxiety and depression. A trained CBT therapist will be able to help you identify the negative thoughts that are causing your negative emotions and will provide you with the tools necessary to challenge, and ultimately, change them.
Homework is an integral component of CBT therapy as the client is urged to try new manners of thinking in their everyday life and then report back to the therapist at the next session. Much of the techniques of CBT can be learned and applied without the aid of a therapist through books such as Mind Over Mood.
Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy
This is another empirically proven therapeutic technique that wields quick results. This therapy works on identifying and correcting irrational thinking patterns that lead to anxiety, depression and substance use. It is broken into identifying irrational thoughts about the world, yourself and others.
These irrational beliefs are broken into categories called MUSTS. i.e. I must do well and win the approval of others or else I am no good. Or, other people must treat me considerately and fairly at all times or I must get what I want, when I want it.
By disputing these irrational beliefs about ourselves, the world around us and other people, we can immediately experience a reduction in anxiety.
As William Shakespeare once said ‘Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’
This type of therapy was once common place in addiction treatment and unfortunately, still is used in many addiction treatment facilities. Types of confrontational therapy include the Minnesota Model which is heavily centered on placing blame on the person and often insulting them, calling them names and verbally challenging them. There is no empirical proof that this type of therapy is effective, so you should use your best judgement if you find a therapist using these types of techniques.
Motivational Interviewing and Solution Focused Therapy are two other forms of proven techniques that work for a wide variety of clients.
All this to say, don’t simply trust a therapist and their techniques because they have a degree on their wall. Many therapists were taught a certain method and have never opened their eyes to newer, more effective treatments.
In my opinion, a good therapist does not limit themselves to set in stone theories but works in a person-centered manner that employs a blend of strategies and techniques that allow for the complexities of each and every human condition.
Curry, C. (2013, April 30). Thinking Critically About Therapy, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, March 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2013/04/thinking-critically-about-therapy
Author: Chris Curry
Glad to read an informative take on therapy. I am too familiar with people who do not keep an open mind on new ideas. Especially if it will be of help to other human beings.
I have found that in case of childhoodtrauma the subconscious mind, directing 95% of our daily actions, cannot be override by cognitive therapy or possibly any therapy. Trying to behave for the therapists sake does not do it but merely prolongs the already in place dissociation. Building resources, tools to become more resilient, like Heartmath and Mindfulness are better equiped to help someone evolve as they are, accepting who they have become through trauma, accepting who they cannot be, because of trauma, the brain possibly forever changed.