Choosing different therapies

Several directions to consider

Therapy can do a lot to let you redirect your life. The tricky thing is to find out how to choose between different therapies and different therapists.

The next diagram shows how different therapies may cast light on our lives in many different ways. Therapy can highlight aspects of what we do, see, hear, feel and sense.

What do you want to focus on?

There are hundreds of approaches to psychological therapy. Some therapies pay different levels of attention to the ‘inner and outer you’; what is going on within your mind (known, in the trade, as intra-psychic features). Other therapies are more aware of the ‘social’ dimension; your place in the wider world. Yet other approaches address what you do, rather than what you believe, or feel.

This diagram offers a way to understand these difference using a YOU and THEM, as well as the INNER and OUTER dimensions.

models (2)

Proponents of different models will look aghast at this table. In some ways, they are right to do so, as it presents an over-simplification of some complex and valuable insights offered by psychological models, old and new.

Rightly, they will question the ‘divisions’ I present in my diagram – of the inner and outer experiences, and of them and us. This division seeks to ‘split’ me into my component parts at a time when modern therapy encourages us to just notice the ‘conversation’ between my parts. Descartes, the French philosopher, famous for the notion of “I think; therefore, I am” is long gone! 

In practice, most therapists are well aware of the ways in which ‘good’ therapy bridges the inner and outer self, as well as our functioning in the outside world. Good therapy also focuses on how to integrate experiences, rather than separate them out.

I want to still use this ‘matrix’ as I use quite a few in this website; see the discount matrix and the Johari Window! I like to think the matrices do help us design different small, safe experiments.

Designing different safe experiments using a range of therapies

So I am including the illustration as it may help you with experimental designs.

Note how some of the suggestions I make ask you to focus on your inner experience (the body scan see towards the bottom of this page. Therapy can help me to communicate with others (assertive communications), or even operate within my larger community (The Road Map).

The Johari Window shows that I can move from the known, toward the unknown, by developing feedback systems. I can listen to myself – my thoughts, feelings and sensations – as well as to the ideas and experiences of other people.

On this web site I emphasise that any effective experiment has to operate in your ‘real world’. Making that so is not so easy.  Modern ‘mass’ therapies, particularly those offered by the NHS and Employee Assistance programmes (EAPs), have opened the world of therapy to many more people. This ‘democratisation’ of therapy – once the playground of the rich – is invaluable. As some-one with strong ties to EAP’s, I have seen many people benefit from therapy that they might have been otherwise dismissed.

That said, some therapy plays down the social setting in which we operate. Even those mass programmes have implicit messages about ‘fitting in’ – with your work place or with our medicalised environment running on tight budgets.

There is a similar problem with small, safe experiments. You may feel you are being invited to fit into the world and/or accept it for what it is.  I’ll let you decide if this works for you.

In the meanwhile, let me stick with the ‘do-able’. Doing your small, safe experiment in a laboratory will not help here.  True, you can do experiments in the therapy room but any results have to be re-tested in your everyday world. See my LIMITATIONS OF THERAPY comments.

Samples of other lines of enquiry

Acceptance and Commitment therapy:

What about ‘education’?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT

Compassion focused therapy

More on models of therapy

Polyvagal Theory – what are the practical implications?

Solution-focused therapy (SFT)

Transactional Analysis (TA): Transactional Analysis (TA)

What about telling me what works for you?