Emotions can be tricky—once they enter the consulting room, it’s easy for both therapists and clients to become stuck in, overwhelmed by, and embattled with strong emotions. It’s no surprise that so many models of therapy focus on changing clients’ problematic thoughts and behaviors—their unhealthy habits, outbursts, and destructive self-talk—while emotions take a back seat. When clients’ emotions are addressed in these cognition-focused models of therapy, they’re labeled and acknowledged without becoming central to the therapeutic process.
It’s a cliché phrase by now, uttered by every health professional at some early point in their careers, but I became a psychotherapist because I wanted to help people. Why else do any of us do it? For many of us, being able to provide support and guidance to people who are moving through the darkest periods in their lives is what keeps us returning to our offices to sit with even the most difficult clients. Read more
The days of children being seen and not heard are long gone–a change that’s welcome in most modern families. Now, however, kids and teens are increasingly expressing themselves through extensive online social networks, which open them up to new spheres of influence that challenge parental authority in an unprecedented way.
By Rich Simon “Psychotherapy’s Image Problem,” an op-ed piece in the New York Times, created quite a stir this week by citing a 34% decline in the number of patients receiving psychotherapy between 1998 and 2007. The author of the article argued that our field needed to do a better public relations job of touting therapy’s demonstrated effectiveness, established in thousands of studies over the past 50 years. But he appeared to miss the larger point that the future of our profession hinges less on our promoting our own narrow guild interests than on working together with movements and thinkers beyond our field dedicated to bringing our perspective on human relationships, emotional awareness, and change to the attention of the wider culture.
Couples therapist, David Schnarch, is not interested in having a couple feel secure in the consulting room.
In fact, David asserts that therapy is the one place where partners should be able to be uncomfortably honest, and take responsibility for their problematic behavior and actions. The couples therapist’s role is to challenge them to do just that.
By Rich Simon In “Therapy Isn’t Brain Science,” a provocative article in the July/August Networker, Steve Andreas took aim at what he called psychotherapy’s collective case of “brain fever.” “The neuroscience information that’s currently in vogue seems primarily useful in convincing clients that we’re ‘experts’—that we have hard scientific knowledge about what’s happening inside their skulls,” wrote Andreas. “But so far I haven’t seen any persuasive direct application of neuroscience to the practice of therapy.”
By Rich Simon There was a time not so long ago that only those who had the time and money to attend workshops around the country had the opportunity for a close-up view of psychotherapy’s leading figures. I remember as a grad student my only access to people whose work I revered like Sal Minuchin, Virginia Satir, and Carl Whitaker — as much as I would have liked to swing by their offices to ask my endless list of clinical questions–was through their writing.
By Rich Simon Anybody who’s been making a living as a therapist in private practice for a while will readily tell you that things aren’t what they used to be. Sure, incomes are down. Reimbursements aren’t what they used to be. Referral sources have changed. It takes more effort and marketing savvy to keep a practice afloat. But many practitioners still carry on as if it were still 1980-something and their potential clients are fundamentally the same as those who sought therapy three or more decades ago.
By Rich Simon Not so many years ago, few respectable therapists would have incorporated anything like “mindfulness” or a so-called “mind-body” approach into their practice. Such words were redolent of New Agey, airy-fairy gobbledegook, not at all appropriate for the serious business of psychotherapy. The body was indeed a very useful physical means for conveying the mind to therapy, but once in session, everything below the neck might as well spend the next hour in Timbuktu for all its relevance to the therapeutic process. Read more
By Rich Simon These days, many noble and once well-remunerated occupations—like journalism and magazine publishing—seem in danger of declining into economic irrelevancy. And, not to unduly shock anybody reading this, the financial prospects of therapists aren’t looking too hot now, either. Not only are we told there are way too many of us—600,000 mental health professionals nationwide—for the population to sustain, but managed care has done its best to shrivel whatever pittance we used to be able to count on for our services. Read more