I Too Am Looking for Evidence that Therapy Works

June 14, 2013

Picture 484

Here is the beginning of a post I just put up on Medium.  You can read the full article here.

“Reading Harriet Brown’s critique of my profession felt like someone was pouring salt on a wound I didn’t know I had. I recently went into private practice as a therapist, leaving behind the world of research in clinical psychology with mixed emotions of elation (no more bosses!) and grief (goodbye dear research). It’s been a tough transition and Ms. Brown’s epic failure to understand the challenges faced by therapists is both hurtful to me and harmful to those who might take her critiques at face value.

Ms. Brown is concerned that patients are not getting the therapy they need largely because we therapists choose to disregard science and instead like to think of therapy as an art. Now I wholeheartedly agree that not all therapists are competent (some astonishingly so). But this common critique of my profession is filled with misunderstandings, errors, and straw men that lead the people away from a deeper understanding of the complexities that exist in the development and delivery of evidence-based mental-health care. Let’s take a critical look at some reasons why patients often do not receive therapy based solely on what the science says to do…..”

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One Response to “I Too Am Looking for Evidence that Therapy Works”

  1. Kelly Kuhn said

    I’m going to admit I didn’t read your entire article in the link – I simply couldn’t do more than scan it. It was well-written from what I could tell, so that wasn’t the problem. The problem is that it hit too close to home for me. I wanted to be a therapist for decades, and in 2009, I finally went to grad school for counseling. It was a highlight of my life. But then the dream was chipped away, one lecture at a time. The professors were good, the classes engaging, but the focus on the clinical model, drugs, and science tore out my soul, one chunk at a time.

    You brilliantly referred to the elephant in the room, and I couldn’t agree more. During the short time I was in grad school (I gave up halfway through the program, broken-hearted), I silently screamed (and kindly asked more than once), “Are you seriously telling me that conditions and clients can be pigeon-holed this much?” The professors agreed that so much of it was nonsensical, yet shook their heads with resignation, effectively saying, “But this is how it’s done.”

    Therapy IS an art – if it is to be flexible to and effective for individual clients. Matters of the heart and psyche cannot possibly be as straightforward as a broken arm. The need to grasp at black-and-white diagnoses and treatment solutions is monumentally ignorant, and I have yet to understand why the system clings to it.

    Despite all this, there are great therapists who do great work. And, hopefully, the system will one day evolve. In the meantime, best wishes to you!

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