Point of View


Point of View

Creatures of Habit

By Ryan Howes

September/October 2016


Just like everybody else, psychotherapists are creatures of habit. We open and close sessions using our standard platitudes, we sit in the same old chair that’s been anchored in place since the Carter administration, and we often use the same interventions with clients, even when they don’t seem to be working especially well. We may think of these aspects of our practice as being a stamp of our particular therapeutic approach and style, but at times, the line between stable and stuck-in-a-rut can become a bit blurry.

And of course, we have personal habits we aren’t so proud of: the manicure-destroying nail biting, the midmorning Krispy Kreme, the “why am I doing this?” nightcap cigarette, the “just one episode” of reality TV. Indeed, we may sometimes wonder how we can help our clients overcome their nasty habits if we can’t get a handle on our own.

I turned to New York Times journalist Charles Duhigg, author of the bestsellers The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business and Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business to see if he’d share how his findings may help us therapists, both personally and professionally.

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RH: How did you become interested in habits?

DUHIGG: When I was a journalist in Iraq, I met an army major who explained that the military had spent time looking at habit formation and how to change habits. I got…

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