How to filter good & bad therapy info
Spotting BS in therapy information
Are you overwhelmed by the immense body of information out there about our mental health, personal development & healing trauma?
You are not alone.
There’s a lot out there.
And that is a good thing. It comes with a higher awareness of our moods, and feelings and how to handle all these in a way that helps us.
One reason was the pandemic (yeah, that again) - forcing us to retreat and look closer at how we live & work.
The other is the liberalization of mental health through recent research. This led to de-pathologizing clinical disorders and explaining them through their processes.
With this came greater access & care for our mental & emotional health.
But it also came with a lot of incomplete or false information, techniques not supported by enough research, and by specialists or advocates who feel they hold the absolute truth about how and what you should do when dealing with an emotional disorder or a negative state.
This is about how to spot BS when looking at information online. Let’s go:
“Specialists” who confuse emotions with disorders.
“Depression is not a cause, it’s a symptom.”
“Anxiety is all about the fact that you were neglected as a child.”
There is the theory that depression and anxiety are symptoms and not causes. They are not diseases, but they are some labels that we put on ourselves or the system puts on us.
I think sometimes this theory can hold. In 13 years of practice, I have refrained from talking to my clients about their diagnostics more than describing what is going on in terms of psychological processes, beliefs, thoughts, and emotions.
Because we tend to stick to a label and it's hard to break away from it and see the trees of the forest.
But when you are ignoring a diagnosis because you believe otherwise and you ignore the data, that is plain dangerous & irresponsible.
Especially when it is done by non-specialists.
Of course, all these names are taxonomies, other labels that are put on a series of processes and emotions and behaviors, but they are important to work in a model that makes sense and that can be followed in intervention and in research.
Coaches talking about healing trauma or freeing you from anxiety/depression in a limited time frame (3 months? Why not 5?)
This is a very big one.
First of all, coaches are not therapists. They are just not trained to evaluate, intervene, and diagnose clinical disorders. Probably that is why they cannot differentiate between different types of anxiety and that’s why they don’t know about randomized clinical trials that are used to validate or not a certain type of intervention.
Secondly, there is no limited amount of time to intervene in anxiety or depression disorders.
I learned pretty early in my career (and the hard way, I might add) that people don’t manage their emotions in my time frame but in their own time frame.
And that a fixed protocol will do little for everyone.
Of course, we follow a framework in the evaluation & intervention phase, but all else is particular to that client & to the relationship.
Specialists who promise to heal and conquer negative emotions
This is quite nuanced, but I don’t believe in a life without negative emotions.
The purpose is not to heal - we are not broken. We are human beings with experiences that formed us, with values, rules & beliefs that were developed to adapt us to a certain situation.
Going for the healing is a quite un-kind way to think about yourself.
A good therapist will never undermine your coping mechanisms. They will honor & respect them. Then they will merely help you create a mindset that helps you in your life now.
I expect someone who advocates healing to be quite judgemental with their clients, but that’s just me, maybe.
This is just a reminder to treat yourself with kindness and to look at yourself from a point of good intentions: you are doing the best you can, with the resources that you have now.
Nobody is perfect, and none of us (therapists & coaches included) has won the game of perfect life.
So filter your info and look for what works for you.