Thursday, July 12, 2012

Process and Content

There are two types of people, generally speaking of course, Thinkers and Feelers.

We are all thinking and feeling human beings but we tend to lead with our head or our heart when processing information and making decisions.

After age 30, it is said that we become more integrated.  My integration took hold after 40 - late bloomer, I guess.  That is, the best decisions factor in both what we think about things and how we feel about it too - Is it safe? Is it fair? Will it work? How will people feel about it?

In therapy, there is BOTH process and content.  BOTH matter.  Both are important.  Let's attend to BOTH.

In the book, The Gift of Therapy:  An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients,  Irvin D. Yalom, MD writes: must attend to both "content" and "process," the two major aspects of therapy discourse.  "Content" is just what it says - the precise words spoken, the substantive issues addressed.  "Process" refers to an entirely different and enormously important dimension:  the interpersonal relationship between the patient and therapist. When we ask about the "process" of an interaction, we mean:  What do the words (and the non-verbal behavior as well) tell us about the nature of the relationship between the parties engaged in the interaction?
So is therapy about the relationship or the techniques?  Both.  No "either/or" dilemma here.  No UCLA vs. USC rivalry here (we all know which is the better school, don't we?).  Without relationship, nothing we say or do matters much.  Without the best techniques/interventions/proven strategies, then aren't we just hanging out, being kind and chatting nicely?  No harm in that but you don't need an advanced degree or a license or to charge money for that!  In fact, if goals are not reached, growth and healing is not achieved, symptoms are not reduced, pain is not alleviated - then why would clients return and pay?  I guess they might if they are lonely.  That sucks.  Then we are high priced enabling friends.  I am sure we aim to do better than that.

We can apply empirically supported strategies, research based interventions and cultural/traditional healing practices (you know the kind with a 50,000 year track record) in the context of a warm, caring and genuine relationship.  Sounds good?

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Check out: Kataoka, S., Vona, P., Acuna, A. , Jaycox, L., Escudero, P., Rojas, C., Ramirez, E., Langley, A., & Stein, B.D. (in press) ...