A Simple Question…
A few years ago I asked the head of a college which taught psychotherapy students whether they encouraged their students to use Outcome Measures (forms designed to measure and record the degree of the client’s progress) with their clients. She said no, that they didn’t require any formal way of measuring progress because a good therapist would always know whether their client was making progress.
Great! I thought. So then I asked: “And what would the therapist be looking for in the client in order to conclude that they were making progress?” Her answer was very interesting and significant for me. She said “A therapist will know when their client is making progress because they will observe the client’s increased capacity for self reflection“
Too Much Self Reflection?
Now, anyone who is familiar with depression knows that people who are depressed often get caught up in a cycle of negative rumination. They are already doing too much self reflection. So it seems strange to me that we still teach trainee therapists to encourage a habit known to be dangerous for depressed people. I accept that “self-reflection” is not necessarily the same as “rumination” – but depression is a “selfish” illness in which sufferers get locked into thinking about their own condition, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else.
At a recent Attachment Theory workshop Dr Gwen Adshead stated that “The purpose of therapy is to improve people’s capacity to mentalise”. I think this is a better aim than to “increase the capacity for self reflection” since it includes thinking about others rather than just about oneself. But I think it is still wide of the mark.
The reason that I work as a psychotherapist is to help my clients overcome whatever challenges they face. And although this does often include “increasing their capacity to mentalise”, it crucially also includes helping them to use their innate resources to get their innate needs met in balance. I have a good track record helping depressed clients and this often involves helping them to focus their thoughts away from self reflection into external activities and relationships. Once people get their innate needs met, their symptoms tend to fade away.
Please contact us if you would like to know how we can help you overcome depression quickly, permanently and cost effectively.