Research estimates that there are over 500 types of psychotherapy.
This can be a troubling statistic for any psychotherapist, counsellor, psychologist or coach to learn about.
I mean, if there are over 500 out there, how can you be certain your approach is optimal?
What if, by only training in one orientation, you’re missing something important?
There are two ways to go about solving this problem…
The first would be to train in as many different modalities as possible, in the hope that you’ll become a more well-rounded practitioner in the process.
Not only would this be time-consuming (there are over 500!), it also leaves a lot up to chance.
The second would be to take a ‘META’ approach, and focus on learning the core, underlying principles, common to all evidence-based forms of psychotherapy.
In other words, instead of trying to master a multitude of different methods, you would focus on the small number of highly effective change processes that have been scientifically proven to lead to positive outcomes in almost every therapeutic approach.
So, in this online conference, we’ll be exploring three ‘META’ approaches to psychotherapy, and how they can be applied to transform the work of any psychotherapist, counsellor, psychologist or coach.
Covid-19 vaccines are delivered on a variety of ‘platforms’, traditional and innovative — all aiming at a common underlying mechanism of protection, i.e. stimulating the development of anti-spike-protein antibodies and T-cell activation. Similarly, scholars have tried to delineate the common factors which underpin the 570 (and counting) varieties of psychotherapy, many of which, as the ‘dodo-bird verdict’ suggests, can be highly effective, but none consistently demonstrably more so than another.
I shall argue that attachment theory and Friston’s Free Energy Principle provide an evidence base, rationale and theoretical framework for understanding the transmutative power of psychotherapies. In the ‘duet for one’ and built-in ambiguities of the psychotherapeutic relationship, these include enhanced ‘granularity’ of entero- and extero-perceptions, an expanded range of ’top-down’ generative models, and facilitated agency by which outdated models and repressed feelings can be revised and transcended. The result is greater flexibility, range of choices, and resilience.
For 35 years, Professor Holmes was Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Psychotherapist at University College London and then in North Devon, and Chair of the Psychotherapy Faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists from 1998 until 2002. He is visiting Professor at the University of Exeter, and lectures nationally and internationally. In addition to 200+ peer-reviewed papers and chapters in the field of psychoanalysis and attachment theory, his books include John Bowlby and Attachment Theory, The Oxford Textbook of Psychotherapy, Exploring In Security, The Therapeutic Imagination, Attachment in Therapeutic Practice, and most recently: “The Brain has a Mind of Its Own”.
Professor Holmes received the Bowlby-Ainsworth Founders Award in 2009. In his spare time, he enjoys making music, gardening, engaging in green politics and spending time with his grandchildren.
In a sense, every form of psychotherapy aims to realize compassionate intentions. However, Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT; Gilbert, 2010) in distinct in the way that this approach targets compassion as an active psychotherapy process variable in assessment, case conceptualization and interventions. CFT is based on an evolutionary model of motives and emotions, that recognizes the central importance of human affiliation and attachment dynamics in emotion regulation and optimal adaptive functioning.
From the moment we are born and throughout our lives, the presence of care, compassion and love will affect us positively, on every level of our being, from our levels of anxiety and depression, to our heart rate variability and immune system functioning. Drawing on applied research in compassion science, contextual behavioral science this discussion will examine how cultivating compassion for self and other relates to psychological flexibility, our ability to mindfully contact the present moment and to pursue the realization of our values with wisdom, strength and courage. Making these connections is one small step in our community process of moving beyond therapy labels, to develop process based methods of alleviating and preventing human psychological suffering.
Dennis Tirch, Ph.D. is the Founder of The Center for Compassion Focused Therapy, the first clinical training center for Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) in the United States, Past President of the Association for Contextual Behavioural Science (ACBS), and an Associate Clinical Professor at Icahn Medical School at Mount Sinai, New York. Described as one of the country’s foremost leaders in compassion training and evidence-based therapy, he is an internationally acknowledged expert therapist, supervisor and trainer in CFT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Buddhist Psychology (BP).
Dr. Tirch is the author of 6 books, some of which include: The ACT Practitioner’s Guide to The Science of Compassion, Buddhist Psychology and CBT, and Experiencing ACT from the Inside-Out. His work has been covered by numerous media outlets, including; The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New York Post, NPR, WIRED, and O Magazine. You can learn more about his unique approach to clinical psychology at www.mindfulcompassion.com, and follow him on twitter at @DennisTirchPhD.
For decades, evidence-based therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, has been defined in terms of treatment protocols focused on syndromes as defined by the DSM and ICD. These psychiatric classification systems assume that psychological problems are expressions of latent disease entities. However, there is little evidence to support this restrictive assumption.
A process-focused approach (Process-Based Therapy, PBT) is now emerging. This approach does not rely on the assumption that psychological problems are expressions of latent disease entities, but it does not rule it out either. Instead, mental health problems are assumed to exist as systems of interconnected elements. As is true for many complex networks, such a change can occur abruptly once the network reaches a tipping point. PBT directly links treatment techniques to processes in the individual client, thereby linking classification to treatment based on functional analysis and complex networks. This offers a less restrictive and more externally valid alternative to the latent disease model, while offering exciting new directions for future research in psychiatry and is in line with personalized medicine.
Stefan G. Hofmann, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Boston University, where he directs the Psychotherapy and Emotion Research Laboratory, and one of the world’s foremost experts in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – especially for anxiety disorders. He was former president of Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and president of the International Association for Cognitive Psychotherapy.
Professor Hofmann’s research focuses on the mechanisms of treatment change, translating discoveries from neuroscience into clinical applications, emotions, and cultural expressions of psychopathology, and is currently the Principal Investigator of a study examining yoga as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder. He has published more than 400 peer-reviewed journal articles as well as 15 books, is the recipient of numerous awards, and has been included in the list of Highly Cited Researchers since 2015. You can learn more about his work at www.bostonanxiety.org/
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