Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Psychotherapy Library

  1. Behavior Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Martin M. Antony and Lizabeth Roemer
  2. Cognitive Therapy:  Basics and Beyond by Judith S. Beck
  3. Becoming a Therapist:  What Do I Say, and Why? by Suzanne Bender
  4. Games People Play:  The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis by Eric Berne
  5. Feminist Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Laura S. Brown
  6. Person-Centered Psychotherapies (Theories of Psychotherapy) by David J. Cain
  7. Case Approach to Counseling and Psychotherapy by Gerald Corey
  8. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Michelle G. Craske
  9. Cognitive Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy)  by Keith S. Dobson
  10. Family Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by William J. Doherty and Susan H. McDaniel
  11. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy)  by Albert Ellis and Debbie Joffe Ellis
  12. Thirty-Five Techniques Every Counselor Should Know by Bradley T. Erford
  13. How to Fail as a Therapist:  50+ Ways to Lose or Damage your Patients by John V. Flowers
  14. Interpersonal Psychotherapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Ellen Frank
  15. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  16. The Descriptive Phenomenological Method in Psychology:  A Modified Huesserlian Approach by Amedeo Giorgi
  17. Emotion-Focused Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Leslie S. Greenberg
  18. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Steven C. Hayes and Jason Lillis
  19. Relational-Cultural Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Judith V. Jordan
  20. If You Meet Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!:  The Pilgrimage of Psychotherapy Patients by Sheldon B. Kopp
  21. On Becoming a Therapist by Jeffrey Kottler
  22. Brief Dynamic Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Hanna Levenson
  23. Where to Start and What to Ask:  An Assessment Handbook by Susan Ries Lukas
  24. Narrative Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Stephen Madigan
  25. Counseling and Therapy Skills by David G. Martin
  26. The Farther Reaches of Human Nature by Abraham Maslow
  27. The Discovery of Being:  Writings in Existential Psychology by Rollo May
  28. Love and Will by Rollo May
  29. Man's Search for HimselfI by Rollo May
  30. Gestalt Therapy by Firtz Perls (et. al.)
  31. Basic Counseling Techniques:  A Beginning Therapist's Tool Kit by C. Wayne Perry
  32. What Therapists Don't Talk About and Why:  Understanding Taboos that Hurt Us and Our Clients by Kenneth S. Pope
  33. Client-Centered Therapy by Carl Rogers
  34. On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers
  35. Motivational Interviewing:  Preparing People for Change by Stephen Rollnick
  36. Against Therapy by Dorothy Rowe
  37. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
  38. Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Therapies (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Jeremy D. Safran
  39. Career Counseling (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Mark Savickas
  40. Existential-Humanistic Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Kirk J. Schneider
  41. Psychotherapy Integration (Theories of Psychotherapy) by George Stricker
  42. The Basics of Psychotherapy:  An Introduction to Theory and Practice (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Bruce E. Wampold
  43. Case Studies in Psychotherapy by Danny Wedding
  44. Reality Therapy (Theories of Psychotherapy) by Robert E. Wubbolding
  45. Existential Psychotherapy by Irvin Yalom
  46. The Gift of Therapy by Irvin Yalom
  47. Love's Executioner by Irvin Yalom
  48. Lying on the Couch:  A Novel by Irvin Yalom
  49. The Schopenhauer Cure:  A Novel by Irvin Yalom
  50. The Spinoza Problem:  A Novel by Irvin Yalom
  51. The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy by Irvin Yalom
  52. When Nietzshe Wept by Irvin Yalom

Major Psychotherapy/Psychological Theories and their Progenitors

  • Erik Erikson - Psychosocial/Developmental
  • Sigmund Freud - Psychoanalysis
  • Carl Rogers - Person-Centered/Humanistic
  • Albert Ellis - Rational Emotive Behavior
  • Aaron Beck - Cognitive
  • Irvin Yalom - Existential/Group
  • Carl Whitaker - Experiential/Emotion-Focused
  • Virginia Satir - Experiential/Emotion-Focused
  • Salvador Minuchin - Structural Family
  • Murray Bowen - Bowenian/Natural
  • Carl Jung - Jungian Analysis
  • Milton Erickson - Brief/Reality/Family/Solution-Focused
  • Nathan Ackerman - Marriage/Family
  • Alfred Adler - Individual/Adlerian
  • Mary Ainsworth - Attachment/Family/Developmental
  • Viktor Frankl - Logotherapy/Existential
  • Karen Horney - Psychodynamics
  • Rollo May - Existential
  • Abraham Maslow - Maslowian/Humanistic
  • Fritz Perls - Gestalt
  • B. F. Skinner - Behavior
  • Eric Berne - Transactional Analysis
  • William Glasser - Reality
  • John Gottman - Couples
  • John Bowlby - Attachment
  • John Watson - Behavior

Friday, October 26, 2012

Emotions and Thoughts

     It's very weird to almost have to pick between "majoring in" thoughts and emotions in psychotherapy.  It seems to me that a lot of therapists consciously choose to unfamiliarize themselves with one of them (normally emotions).  But shouldn't they be considering both?  Since when was it wrong to feel?  Sure, thoughts can lead to emotions, but does that mean that we should subscribe to one or deny ourselves the riches of the other?  Emotions, I believe, can also lead to profound thought.
     Thought allows us to understand the world.  Thinking is what led us to create all the amazing things around us.  But what if we had all our computers and video games and electron scanning microscopes, but were disallowed human contact and love?  We could fill the world with the latest technology, but would it mean anything?  Would the world really be full?  It would be like having atomic particles without a positive or negative charge.  The matter would simply float along and away.
     Therapists need to allow themselves to feel.  Perhaps more behavioral or cognitive-behavioral orientations are popular because they don't require the amount of emotional empathy that experiential theories do.  Do we use them to avoid burnout?  Maybe.  Is it worth it?  Better asked:  Is it fair?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Four Theaters of Psychotherapy

     No one will ever agree 100% with anyone else about the validity of psychotherapeutic orientations.  Obviously a Rational Emotive Behavior therapist will disagree fundamentally with a psychoanalyst.  But, as we have seen time and time again, even those who study or partake of the same theory have different views on how to apply it.  With all this in mind, I will now try to do the impossible:  to create a unified theory for psychotherapy.  This is ultimately self-defeating, but it's at least a fun thought exercise.
     I think, at this point, that there are four theaters of psychotherapeutic application.  These include the world, the immediate environment, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.  The world, in my definition, would be analogous to the macrosystem in Bronfenbrenner's Systems model.  This include fundamental ideas and archetypes in a person's (indeed, in each person's) life.  Immediate environment refers to the room in which the therapist and client(s) find themselves.  The interpersonal theater is an idea that there is a certain mode or fashion to how a therapist and client interact.  The last theater is intrapersonal.  Whereas there is a dialogue between people, I think that there is also a dialogue in a person's hand.
     But the real question here is how to use specific theories in each one of these areas.  What is appropriate?  I will be using more popular and basic theories because they are easier to obtain and study than more obscure theories.

    Starting from the outside and moving toward the inner theatres, we come to the world.  Understanding the world is a difficult thing.  Obviously every theory in psychotherapy is attempting to answer some/many/all (though the audacity of that last type would be staggering) questions about what is "out there."  So my goal here is not to do that.  The goal is to be able to come to terms with large ideas.  I can't think of a better orientation in this realm than existential psychotherapy.  This theory leads to thoughts and ideas about some of the larger issues in life.  The real issue is how to help the client prepare for (or help them prepare themselves for) the large issues in life.  I think that techniques and a deep understanding of existentialism can help these issues to be addressed.
     The environmental theater of things is an amazingly simple ideas as all the tenets have been exampled, tested, and applied through Rogers.  Everything he says about genuineness, unconditional-self and -other acceptance, and empathy pertains to this idea.  Perhaps, at this point, I should make a more detailed distinction between environment and interpersonal.  I do this because genuineness etc. can be communicated verbally.  But I think that these can be communicated through body language and the set-up of the room as well.  As I write this, I realize that the difference is tenuous at best.  Something to come back to later.
     How we talk to a client and what method we use with our words is very important.  How do we get a therapeutic relationship started and keep it sustained?  At this point in my limited career, I think that an author by the name of Kottler,  who wrote On Becoming a Therapist said it amazingly well.  He said that (paraphrasing) we learn to counsel through the power of our personality.  I love that statement.  I know that that has absolutely no theory, evidence, or respectable orientation behind it.  Honestly, I think that the interpersonal part of therapy is really what the inter-theory scuffle is about.  At this point, I haven't found one that satisfies me yet.  This will have to do for now . . .
     The last theatre is intrapersonal.  This one is fairly straightforward.  The question is: How does one better himself when the counselor is not around?  Better said, how does the client counsel themselves when the counselor is away and all they have is the voice of their conscience in their head?  Albert Ellis found a pretty good answer to that.  REBT teaches a person to keep their thoughts/emotions/actions in control by understanding how each of them are interconnected.  It's something that someone can do by themselves.
     Perhaps the Unified Theory isn't really about the specific theories used in the different theatres, but rather the model of theatres itself.  This is, of course, a little more difficult to change in the World and the Environment.  Again, this whole thing needs to be discussed more when I have more time to think about it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

On the Subject of Altruism

     I define altruism as the drive to save another, or decrease their suffering, through total non-accountance of self.  I thinkt hat the most common example of altruism (and most likely the only situation in which true altruism can be shown, if not proven) is a death situation.  Better said, a situation in which one dies for another without any though of self-preservation.  I've thought about this, and I think it would be very difficult to prove total altriuism beyond the shadow of any doubt.
     Perhaps an example is in order.  Were a parent to save their child by pushing them out of the road of an on-coming vehicle, only to be struck themselves, does this show true altruism? I'm sure that many would say yes - this parent thought nothing of their safety in order to save their own blood.  But if we search for the underlying reason for the action, could the answer not lay in evolution and genetics?  Perhaps a parent inherently knows that to save their child would preserve the family.  Perhaps the only way a parent will truly live on forever would be to ensure that their genetics live on in their offspring.  So, in this situation, there was a self-interested erason for saving the child!
     Even taking the child's parentage out of the equation does not prove true altruism.  Saving a child from someone else's family still protects the "collective" by seeing that another offspring survives.  Perhaps a better way to say that is that saving another human helps ensure the specie's survival as a whole.
     Taking this idea one step further, if we were to take same-species situations off the table, there are still bars to true altruistic sacrifice.  If anything - a dog, a paper clip, a glass of water - is important enough for a person to sacrifice all or part of themselves, a certain feeling of accomplishment oress" must crop up in the sacrificer's skull.  This feeling of being in the right place in order to save somethign that must be saved is enough to shake altruism.  One must first ask himself if the person is sacrificing in order to feel this sensation or if he is feeling it due to the sacrificing.  Obviously the first situation is more sacrifical dare-devilry than true altruism.  The latter is much different.
     There are also certain actions that are done to avoid negative outcomes or feelings.  While a feeling of "rightness" or accomplishment is positive and may push a person to sacrifice, avoiding a negative outcome is just as much of a motivator.  Not saving that child might bring on a punishment which would be unfortunate and possibly severe enough to abhor lack of sacrifice.
     Intent is the most important part of this.  Why was this happening?  Split reaction to a problem shows no intent, so it has nothing to do with altruism.  A truly altruistic situation is one in which the person has absolutely nothing to gain from an action - not even a feeling!  I think that intent is one of the most important part of psychotherapy.  If there is no intent, then the action or thought has no merit (unless one wants to mention the depth of the intent - overt or unconscious). 
     So . . . if one sacrifices themselves utterly without intent, they cannot be seen as truly altruistic because they are supporting something else.  But to be without intent, I argue that one cannot be truly altruistic either.  This situation yields only insanity or, as mentioned previously, reaction.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Yalom and Religion

     I read most of Yalom's The Gift of Therapy.  He mentions religion a couple of times in his book and a few of them, his own opinions on the matter are quite clear.  While I grew up in a semi-religious household, I see myself as agnostic or spiritual.  Religion, I think, is a wasted doctrine that has no singular value.  Its meaning is lost to re-telling and outside opinion.  Religion could be anything - money, a deity, the rain, science... whatever.  I would rather put my faith in something I can stack in my favor - people.
     That being said, I would like to apply religion to the four constants in existential psychotherapy.  These include death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness.  Death is simply the fact that someone (everyone) will die.  It is an inevitability.  Freedom actually refers to freedom of responsibility/choice; everyone has the ability (or perhaps better put, the possibility) of making choices and having responsibility over themselves.  Isolation is intended to mean that everyone in the world is alone.  The last term, meaninglessness, is perhaps the most important and sought after ideal of the list.  People need meaning to survive.  They need a reason to live.
     Religion drastically changes the meaning of death.  To a certain degree, the act of dying changes from an inevitable end to a portal to some other plane (whether that be Paradise or Pit).  It causes many to decry finding meaning in his own life for that in another.  Death becomes just another tick on a timeline.  The budding scientist in me scoffs at the idea of such a belief in something that cannot be documented.
     Freedom in and of itself becomes meaningless (especially in Western religions) because everything is pre-ordained.  People don't have control of their lives anymore.  This means that piously religious folk trust everything to their faith, making decisions that are important or everyday not their problem.
     Isolation, that feeling of being alone, which makes us all connect with one another becomes a farce because we're never alone.  People can live with their religion instead of each other.  The idea of dying alone also becomes defunct.
     Meaning.  Now isn't that what religion (and philosophy) are all about?  Why are we here?  Rather than figuring out our own meaning (or perhaps coming to the end conclusion that a search for meaning is itself meaningless), religion gives us false hope.  It tells people that their meaning is the same as everyone else's...  Is that true?  Is everyone the same as everyone else?  That's doubtful.