LIMITATIONS IN MODERN PSCHOTHERAPY
- Most therapeutic models have mistakenly been coded as science. This is inefficient because science relies on the process of halting all variables other than the one being tested … so that changes to the whole can then be attributed to the tested variable. The human system is constantly active as a whole and consequently one change cannot be proven as attributable to a single variable. The sciences of the brain itself are still in their infancy … at least in the public domain. Collate this with the fact that the human brain is generally perceived by the scientific community as the most complex thing in the known universe and it becomes clear why we have so much difficulty analysing the structure of beliefs, values and motives. Thus psychology is ultimately a matter of subjective opinion, rather than a definable science.
- Most therapy mistakenly seeks to measure by quantification. You can predict with reasonable accuracy what will happen if you throw a stone into a field, providing you know in advance the physical properties of the stone, the speed and angle of the throw and the physical properties of the landing place. You can calculate where the stone will come to rest again. Yet it is very difficult to predict what will happen if you touch another human being with your index finger. The collateral energy used to touch the individual is inproportionate to the energy used in the person’s response. The reason for this is that quantification, which works wonders in the physical sciences, is inefficient for measuring psychological and emotional processes. Hence quantitive terms in therapy such as "pouring out emotions" or "releasing tension" can be very distortive of how the mind functions.
- Most therapy mistakenly seeks to code subjective experience with words. Reality is infinitely more complex than the languages we use to describe it. Yet ongoing debates in therapeutic theory are often limited by the pursuit of a superior description - a single verbal code that encapsulates the reality of therapy and that cannot be challenged by semantic arguements. This is impossible as all descriptions are distortions of reality and can always be challenged by counter-examples in sensory experience, thus psychology ignores the wisdom of multiple representation.
- Another variant on the language theme is that most therapeutic models mistakenly attempt to categorise human behaviour/response patterns with the use of labels. Where this falls apart is when the practicing therapist starts pigeonholing all of their client’s issues within “recognised” forms of diagnosis, while forgetting that there are an infinitely greater number of human patterns that aren’t covered by the current syllabus. Half a dozen clients can display outwardly similar behavioural patterns, yet the underlying beliefs and motives can be different for each person. Generalistic labels simply distort the therapist’s perception at the cost of real-time information gathering.
- Most therapeutic models impose too many limitations on the practitioner's behaviour, which often prevent their clients from getting what they need. There are times when it is appropriate to argue with a client or even insult them and there are situations where the opposite is applicable. Every strategy or behaviour has its place in life and hence a wisdom of context is more useful in therapy than the ruling out of options.
- The client knows far more about their own thoughts and feelings than their therapist can ever know. The therapist and client are initially strangers and hence there is a lack of familiarity with the intricacies of the client’s beliefs, values, memories and environmental context. This familiarity could take years to develop in the therapy room and is a poor subsitiute for the social support that has traditionally been provided by integrated family and community networks. Unfortunately, these neighbourhood networks are being continually dilluted in the age of digital information and the paranoia induced by a fear-mongering mass-media empire.
- Many therapists are too pre-occupied with following the theories and values of their own training to be truly responsive to the client. The therapist could be trained in anything from Person-centred Counselling to Ericksonian Hypnosis to Transactional Analysis. Each of the major models of therapy are applicable to certain types of client needs, as opposed to others. The problem comes when the same model of therapy is applied to every client. Naturally, the result is that many clients get what the therapist is taught to give instead of what they personally need. It becomes a guessing game where clients bounce from one therapist to another until they get help or give up on therapy as a viable option.
- Fear of legal action has become a restraining factor for many counsellors. By far the most common and popular from of therapy today is Person-Centred Counselling, in which the therapist is simply a non-judgemental listener who takes no direct action to induce therapeutic change. In this model the client is supposed to "find their own solutions". This non-judgement approach can be a useful part of the therapy process, as it builds trust and hence can induce greater honesty from the client. However, it can also encourage learned helplessness and does nothing to challenge dishonesty, denial or self-defeating beliefs. Results are particularly slow and hence financially expensive. The key reason for it's popular use today is that a counsellor who simply listens, offers no feedback and takes no action to induce change is virtually exempt form any accusation of professional misconduct. This is partially a reflection of today's climate of legal action paranoia.
- The financial risk involved in therapy is too great for the average individual to afford. Therapists are charging by the hour as opposed to by the result, the irony being that they make more money when they take longer periods of time to try to help their clients.
- Access to the therapist is limited. Usually an hour once a week as arranged by appointment. Clients cannot postpone their problems between sessions, nor can they guarantee that they will be prepared to tackle their problems at the time of their appointment.
- Most therapeutic sessions take an isolationist approach to problems, while leaving the underlying cognitive habits in place. It is these basic cognitive habits that get the client into trouble in the first place. So the question for the client eventually arises, “Can I afford to return to therapy each time I encounter a new area of difficulty in my life?” The answer in most cases will be a resounding “No!"