Learning to Separate Our Hopes for Our Clients from Their Goals for Themselves
By William Doherty - Are therapists more like shamans or family doctors? Explorers of human depths or more like Siri on your iPhone, just directing you from one place to another? I'm a skeptic about whether any clinical approach is good at getting clients consistently to the promised land of transformation. Maybe therapy is better understood as being about breakthroughs—small, medium, and large—rather than about transformation.
One Therapist Hits the Road with the Better Angels to Find Out
By William Doherty - After the 2016 Presidential election, I discovered a new professional mission—to work on healing the divide among ordinary Americans—or in couples therapy terms, to prevent a long-term civic divorce. Through an organization called Better Angels, I decided to embark on a bus tour to see what I could learn about shifting the standoff between Red and Blue America.
Creating Space for a Conversation About Civic Commitments
Sometimes our clients have commitments to groups or causes that enrich their lives and social connections. But very often, says couples therapist Bill Doherty, therapists don't inquire about these elements of our clients' lives. In fact, he adds, there seems to be a bias against doing so. In the following clip from his 2017 Networker Symposium Keynote address, Doherty explains how exploring civic commitments can also advance therapy.
Being an Effective, Ethical Therapist in an Age of Political Upheaval
What does it mean to be a dutiful citizen and an effective therapist in the modern day? This is the central question Bill Doherty posed in his keynote address at the 2017 Networker Symposium. In the following video clip from that speech, Doherty explains how we can effectively and ethically deal with political stress in the consulting room.
A Therapist's Journey through Key Cultural Moments in Our Field's History
By William Doherty - What follows is my take on the last 40 years of psychotherapy, reflecting the attitudes common within my generation of therapists. But beyond describing my own experience, it’s an attempt to offer the perspective that time and reflection make possible about what I now see as the intimate relationship between what goes on within the seeming sanctuary of therapists’ offices and the hurly-burly of the wider culture.
Giving Our Field a Boost
By William Doherty - Lately, psychotherapy seems to be suffering the same fate as many other professions that have declined in their cultural support and public clout. A big part of our problem is that our clinical models have assumed a level of universal truth about human functioning that transcends culture and history, but when the culture changes, then the model becomes outdated. What to do? Here’s a road map to a future of relevance.
William Doherty on the Merits of Discernment Counseling
This wish for a permanent mate isn’t surprising, given the perennial human longing to know that someone is there for us as we age, whatever happens---and that means there are no quick, guilt-free exits. Life is complicated, and divorce is sometimes necessary, but why not, in the words of poet Dylan Thomas, “rage, rage against the dying of the light,” instead of simply moving on because the current marital house would take too much work to restore and the one down the street looks better?
Leaving the DSM Behind, Boosting Creativity, and Reinvigorating Your Clinical Work
Psychotherapy as we know it came out of the particular cultural milieu of the mid- to late-20th century. But the culture has moved on, and we haven’t adapted very well. As a result, we’re suffering the same fate as many other professions that have declined in their cultural support and public clout. Many of us are practicing in another century for another culture. It’s still unclear what we have to offer in a world that’s both hyperconnected and fragmented. What to do? Here’s a road map to a future of relevance.
The Epidemic of Overscheduling Our Children
In previous decades, we came to see sexism and racism as problems we could no longer ignore in our work. I have a nomination for the problem of this decade: for many kids, childhood is becoming a rat race of hyperscheduling, overbusyness, and loss of family time. The problem is all around us, but we haven't noticed how many of our children need daily planners to manage their schedules of soccer, hockey, piano, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, baseball, football, karate, gymnastics, dance, violin, band, craft clubs, foreign-language classes, academic-enrichment courses, and religious activities. Parents have become recreation directors on the family cruise ship.
Therapy Tools for the Novice Marriage Counselor
Couples sessions can be scenes of rapid escalation uncommon in individual therapy, and even in family therapy. Lose control over the process for 15 seconds and you can have a couple fighting with each other to the point where the argument dominates the rest of the session, each partner wondering why they're paying you to watch them mix it up.As in any sport or art form, there are beginners' mistakes. Here are a few of them.