Dialectics in psychotherapy

The word “dialectic” has a long history, from ancient Greek philosophers, through Hegel and Marx, and to the present day. Its meaning has changed over the centuries, and according to different thinkers. In psychotherapy, “dialectic” is almost wholly associated with dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), where the term identifies a particular type of treatment — […]

"Evidence based" psychotherapy

When a mental health clinic, online referral service, or private practice offers “evidence based” psychotherapy, that certainly sounds like a selling point.  It suggests solid science supports the therapy offered — and that competing services lack this support.  But what does this phrase really mean?

“Evidence based medicine” first appeared in the medical literature […]

Dynamic therapy as 'Alternative medicine'

“Complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) is a category that includes all the methods of physical or mental healing that do not fall under the umbrella of western medicine. Examples include comprehensive healing traditions from other cultures, such as Chinese or Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine; herbal remedies; and a wide variety of mind-body treatments, such as […]

Psychodynamically informed clinical work

In a world of diverse mental health treatments and treatment settings, psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy have lost their former prominence. Only a small fraction of patients have the time, money, and interest to engage in long-term, open-ended mental exploration — even if doing so would get to the root of their problems and lead to […]

Choose your actions, not your feelings

Again and again in therapy I find myself emphasizing the distinction between feeling an emotion and acting on it. Many patients, and non-patients too, take undue responsibility for their emotions, as though feelings were volitional behaviors, the result of a choice. Often there is a stated or implied should: “I should feel this, not that.” […]

Credulity

As we grow into adulthood, each of us develops a personal comfort zone located on the continuum between paranoia and gullibility. A few of us are highly suspicious by nature, a few are unwitting dupes; most of us are in between. Mental health professionals are no exception, and it shows in our work. Is a […]

Hiring the one-armed surgeon

Two of the most commented posts on my blog are about charging patients for missed sessions and how psychotherapies end. As there is no single correct approach to either of these, there’s plenty of room for practices legitimately to vary, and plenty of room for patients, i.e., most of my commenters, to express their likes […]