By: Martin Eble Re: When Therapy Harms From the Internet: BEWARE THE TALKING CURE: PSYCHOT

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By: Martin Eble Re: When Therapy Harms From the Internet: ================= BEWARE THE TALKING CURE: PSYCHOTHERAPY MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR MENTAL HEALTH by Terence W. Campbell, Ph.D. ppbk, 265 pages, Upton Books, a division of SIRS $14.95 Review by Jaye Sharp, Editor of Michigan PFA Newsletter. "Traditional psychotherapy faces a crisis of enormous proportions," (p 34) writes Dr. Terence Campbell, Michigan clinical and forensic psychologist. Campbell sees little hope for the field of psychotherapy unless it undergoes a radical "paradigm shift." The reader should not be put off by the term "paradigm1," although such a reaction would be understandable considering the trivialization it has suffered at the hands of writers of popularized psychobabble. It is a perfectly good and descriptive term and the reader is urged to put aside any negative associations and remember "paradigm" as meaning simply a "model" or "standard". Science philosopher Thomas S. Kuhn, writes Dr. Campbell, "defines prevailing theories, methods, and procedures of a profession as its 'paradigm.' When the existing paradigm of a profession is no longer viable -- as in the case of traditional psychotherapy -- a crisis prevails and the profession must undertake a 'paradigm shift.' Otherwise, it jeopardizes its legitimacy as a profession. Once a profession has accomplished a paradigm shift, 'it (quoting Dr. Kuhn)...will have changed its views of the field, its methods, and its goals.'" (pp 34-35) Briefly, Campbell defines traditional psychotherapy as Analytic therapy, Client center-humanistic (or CC-H) therapy, and Behavioral therapy. Analytic therapy has as it goal a client's insights into his/her own behavior. (p 54) CC-H therapy encourages the client to value getting in touch with feelings as opposed to achieving any intellectual awareness. Behavioral therapy assumes that a client's psychological distress comes from learned patterns of behavior. (p 87) All three therapeutic approaches share the same defect, from Campbell's point of view -in spite of their different approaches -- in that they do not adequately serve the client's true needs. The client is, in all three orientations, subservient to therapy ideology. With such traditional psychotherapy, says Campbell, "unless changes in the paradigm of each of these therapeutic orientations occur, there will be no change in views, methods or goals." In other words, until or unless there is change in the theoretical ideology of a therapy, there is no change in the practice of the therapy. FMS readers may initially be disappointed that Campbell does not cover "recovered-memory" therapy in depth. But this is not within the book's objectives, which are, rather, a critical look at the failures of traditional therapies, an urgent plea for changes within the traditional therapeutic community, and a guide for the lay person seeking therapy. Recovered-memory therapy is dealt with under "incest-resolution therapy," in Part III of the book: Therapeutic Relationships, Therapist as Prosecutor. This makes sense within the context of the book. Recovered-memory therapy, or as it is referred to in the book, incest resolution therapy, fulfills all the conditions of traditional psychotherapy. It isolates the client from his/her family, makes the therapist the only important person in the client's life, and disregards research in the field while adamantly adhering to a rigid ideology. Not surprisingly, Campbell does not see much hope for a paradigm shift in this area. "...therapists whose professional identities and incomes depend largely on their reputations as 'incest resolution experts' might find it particularly difficult to objectively assess the pitfalls of their orientation." (pp 181 -182) Campbell is scathing in his view of his profession, but not rancorous. At the same time that he condemns traditional psychotherapy (the current paradigm) for its failings, he offers concrete and attainable solutions for "a professional in crisis." He is adamant, for example, in his insistence that the client-therapist relationship needs to be reoriented from a client preoccupation toward a client-family (or significant others) preoccupation. This therapeutic approach enlists the people who are closest to the client -- involving them as part of the client's therapeutic solution -- and places the therapist in a more peripheral role. (pp 217-218) "Unless psychotherapists undertake the necessary paradigm shift," warns Campbell, "they will reduce themselves to the status of charlatan and faith-healers." (p 245) "Beware the Talking Cure: Psychotherapy May be Hazardous to Your Mental Health" is above all, a cogent, concise, and relevant guide for a anyone thinking about entering therapy. It dispels the confusion and defuses the agony involved in choosing and assessing a therapist. In the book's Afterword, Hiring and Firing a Therapist, the lay person is offered the kind of advise that will save many a potential client a lot of time, money, and anxiety. Campbell insists that potential clients should not hesitate to ask a therapist about his/her training. Such questions, writes Campbell, "are altogether necessary and appropriate. Any therapist who refuses to answer, or responds evasively, is a therapist to avoid." (p 248) For the person already in therapy, there is a list of 40 questions which serves as an invaluable aid in assessing one's own therapeutic experience. If the person in therapy, for example, answers 'yes' to ten or more questions, "you need to carefully question your therapist about the relevance of your therapy..." advises Campbell. "He is probably doing you more harm than good." (p 251) There is an additional implied message here, and that is that the client should assume a less passive role in the client-therapist relationship and accept a greater responsibility in order to insure a successful therapeutic outcome. Is there hope for a genuine improvement in psychotherapy? "The American public," says Campbell, "deserves more than the illusory effectiveness of wise words, kind words, and encouraging words. Most likely, the impetus for a paradigm shift will come from an informed public demanding it. (Emphasis added) At this point in time, the public possesses greater potential for objectivity about psychotherapy than psychotherapists do. In their dogged determination to protect their obsolete paradigm, traditional therapists have sacrificed their objectivity." (pp 245-246) Beware the Talking Cure is a book which should be on the shelves of every library and every book store in the country. It will go a long way toward educating consumers about the pitfalls of traditional psychotherapy and informing them about the kinds of mental health services they have a right to demand: effective, constructive therapy from well-trained effective therapists. ************************ Dr. Terence W. Campbell, Ph.D., is a Fellow of the American Psychological Society and is a member of the Scientific and Advisory Board of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. He practices in Sterling Heights, Michigan. ___ Blue Wave/QWK v2.12


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