Making therapy work...

The English word therapy comes Greek and means “curing” or “healing”. It can be applied to a psychological outcome, such as the changing of a thought, feeling or behavior, in general, depression for example, or in a specific situation such as fear of flying.

There is a lot of historical baggage, misconception and misinterpretation about what is or isn’t possible to cure, or heal when it comes to issues of the mind, soul and spirit. All depending on who you ask.

When somebody gives up their will to fight or live, it is often referred to as a “broken spirit”. However, tinkering with the “spirit” of a person, or even recognizing that such a thing exists beyond doubt, is not part of mainstream psychological interventions. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, for example, focuses on thought processes (cognitive) and behaviors, while religion and shamanism focuses on the spirit realm, and rarely do these worlds meet in the same intent to heal, even if they can benefit so much from each other.

Mainstream psychological interventions involve the body, mainly from a mechanical biological approach by adding chemicals or electricity, a lot of the time on a trial and error basis.

So, when somebody offers healing or a cure, you may want to take a step back, and ask yourself what their belief is based on, that makes them think they can help you. Is it mechanical biology, science, religion or some other belief system? Do they consider their system to be superior to everyone else’s, and if so, what may that imply?

I believe there is no single cure that fits every person, and I am convinced that body, mind, behavior, feeling, soul and spirit are parts of the same system, and I have no problem about not being able to prove what a soul or spirit is.

I believe that self-medication with alcohol, sex, drugs, dating, gambling, over-training or religiously compulsive activity of some other sort is a sign of a troubled soul rather than a bad habit, and that change needs to come from the soul rather than the behavior used to express it.

I believe that anxiety comes in two forms: the one you can create by thinking in a specific way (consciously or unconsciously), and the one the your autonomous nervous system has conditioned as a reflex at some point, thinking that it is useful for survival, and hasn’t realized that it isn’t necessary any more (post-traumatic stress responses). They benefit greatly by being approached in different ways.

I believe good therapy is delivered by someone that is humble, curious and prepared to accept that their methods and experiences may or may not be appropriate with every new client. Prepared to make mistakes, admit them and learn from them. Prepared to be wrong, and then find out how to make it right.

Hypnotherapist Milton Erickson was asked by a client if he was sure he could help. He is told to have said “I can promise that we will solve this together, unless you give up or one of us dies trying.”