Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The great irony of people's beliefs about therapy.

I run into a lot people who are against therapy because they don't want anyone messing with their mind. These people don't want to discuss the images from their unconscious, or their feelings, or their childhood traumas. It's been my experience that many of these same people accept the action therapies because there is no delving into the depths of the psyche that exists in the insight therapies - like psychoanalytical and existential. They especially like reality therapy, behaviorial and cognitive behavioral because they are quicker and give immediate results. (Nevermind that you have to retrain yourself in them every several years. I, personally, have to retrain myself in my anti-anxiety techniques about every 5 years.) They see this as a way to ensure their mind isn't messed with.

The irony?

Action therapies are far more likely to impose outside values on the client. In fact, that is why they get such quick results. It's also why they only last a few years. Now, an ethical action therapist would take pains not to let their personal beliefs be imposed on the client, but it's something they always have to be aware of because it is so easy to do.

Insight therapies, on the other hand, are designed to explore the client's own values and what formed those values. The main idea is that you have to work with what is there, instead of over-riding it. Most insight therapies are geared to helping the client create their own set of workable values, based on their own experience and knowledge, while giving just enough guidence to keep things from getting stalled. They are to help the client understand WHY they do want they do, so they can choose their behavior based on self-knowledge versus training themselves to do certain behaviors to make life bearable.

Of course, it's often necessary to do a bit of both types. Especially with the restrictions dictated by insurance companies for mental health care.

But it's really hard for me to keep a straight face when someone tells me they don't like people messing with their heads, when I know they've used cognitive behaviorial techniques for some of their quirks.

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