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Uncommon Ideas for Therapists

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Psychotherapy - Part 1

Development - Part 2

Sigmund Freud - Part 3

Client Centred - Part 4

Insight Therapy - Part 5

Solution Focused - Part 6

Psychological Problems - Part 7

Research - Part 8

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Insight-Based Therapy

The idea with all these therapies except pure behavioural therapy was that when a person got 'insight'; coming to an understanding or interpretation of why they had the problem, the problem would some how dissolve. Again there is little evidence for this.

It may be helpful to know where, for example, a phobia came from but the emotional centres of the brain (housed within the limbic system) and the thinking centres (housed in the ne-cortex) are quite separate and distinct. Having intellectual understanding of emotional problems rarely makes a difference to the emotional problem itself. This is not to say that one part of the brain doesn't influence the other but if emotion is very intense, then discovering a rationale for why it occurred will not supply the new skills to actually dissolve the over-emotionality.

Millions of people know why they have a phobia or became depressed without this 'insight' actually helping them. Indeed someone once said that insight therapy was called such because the end to such therapy was never 'in sight.'

Cognitive Therapy Arrives on the Scene

More recently, Aaron Beck developed his cognitive psychotherapy, actually inspired by the ancient writings of the reflective Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Beck, who had been a Freudian, helped devise the central premise that what we think dictates what we feel. The practical idea is that getting people to challenge their assumptions and thinking can lend them control over their emotional life and lead to less damaging ways of living.

Getting people to desist from unrealistic assessments of their lives and use their cognitive brain effectively can be highly effective, especially in the treatment of depression.

Gaps in Cognitive Theory

However the basic premise of cognitive psychology is not completely accurate.

Thinking does not always precede emotion, it is sometimes the other way around, as Daniel Goleman points out in his ground breaking book 'Emotional Intelligence'.

We can, for example, jump at a sudden noise, responding emotionally about half a second before the thinking brain produces the thought 'Oh the car's exploded!'

In fact all experience seems to come with an emotional 'tag'. However having said this, cognitive therapy, while sometimes being guilty of over-complexity, certainly commands a permanent a place in the effective treatment of many psychological disorders.

However as the writers of 'Psychotherapy, Counselling and the Human Givens' conclude it is just as true to say that anxiety, anger, depression and other conditions are as much disorders of the imaginative mind as of the cognitive or thinking mind.

Which brings us full circle back to Mesmer and the use of therapeutic hypnosis as a way, in conjunction with other approaches, of facilitating positive change in people, hypnosis being unparalleled in its ability to engage the imaginative mind and use it constructively.

Psychotherapy Today

There are currently around 400 different types of psychotherapy 'out there'. However, there is happily increasingly more accountability as far as actual client satisfaction and efficacy research is concerned.

Until recently it was thought that all psychotherapies were more or less just as effective (or ineffective) as each other. However since the 1970s, research analysis has been instrumental in sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Next, Psychotherapy Solution

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Mark Tyrrell
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