Behavioral Health Consultant, Trainer and EAP Manager

Seattle, Washington

Is Brief Therapy not Deep?

Question:

Why wouldn’t I want some intensive, ongoing therapy, which will instill change on a “deeper” level?

Answer:

First, it is worth mentioning that time-effective is not necessarily the same as short-term.  There are many instances where we decide to spread out the frequency over time, meeting every other week or monthly, for instance.  Also there are a few people I see every one or two weeks over the course of a long time.

Overall, my analogy with goal-directed, time-effective therapy vs. the more ponderous approaches is that you can take a drive to a destination in two ways. One would be to take the long, winding scenic road and the other, a strait superhighway. Both will get you there. The long road will allow you more fascinating views, maybe some exciting twists and turns and possibly some long tedious stretches. The problem is, you pay as you go and the cost will add up. Also, you may find in the future that you have strayed away from where you want to be, and you will not be able to retrace the route. 

The superhighway gets you there more efficiently. It is cheaper. Quicker. Uncomplicated. If in the future you need to make movement again, you will remember the route and can take it on your own, or with a little more brushing up with the therapist.

If I allow myself to get cynical I would say too that there is too much potential for a conflict of interest. In other words if you get well, your therapist loses a golden goose. I fear that analytic therapy can often foster an unhealthy dependence. It has also fostered systems of analytic theory that are far too complicated, inherently unverifiable and rarely effective. The poster boy for this view would be Woody Allen (as he is often portrayed), a lifetime psychoanalysis devotee and just as neurotic as ever.

So, I try not to be too cynical. I know that there are many wise and effective analytic therapists with many satisfied clients. It is a perfectly good direction to go in, though not with me.

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