Emerging Trends in Psychotherapy: Integration

If there is one constant in life, it’s change. The important field of psychotherapy is certainly no exception. As our world becomes ever more advanced, the problems we face both as a society and as individuals become correspondingly more complex and difficult to resolve. One way to adapt and thrive in such an environment is to realize the connections that often exist between different components of a subject. This integration process helps to reduce the total number of pieces involved in mentally processing the problem and thus makes it easier to understand and develop effective measures for.

How is the field of psychotherapy moving toward integration? Dr. Gelso, in his article entitled: “Emerging and Continuing Trends in Psychotherapy: Views From an Editor’s Eye” lays out various ways he has seen the industry evolve over the last several decades.  We will examine some of these below.

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It Really is All About Attitude

Last year I received an invitation to speak at a conference for professionals in the caring professions. The conference was attended by doctors, nurses, counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, dentists, hospital and army chaplains, missionaries, marriage and family therapists, surgeons and students. The topic that the conference organizers had asked me to speak on was “Gratitude During Times of Suffering” and my marching orders were simple: explain how it’s possible to remain thankful in the midst of suffering.

Now I’ve never been particularly good at being thankful when things are going wrong. If I have trouble sleeping, I grumble the next day. If I don’t have enough money to buy something I want, I whine and complain to whoever will listen. If I have a physical injury, everyone in my circle of friends is sure to know about it. So expecting me to give a talk on how to be grateful during times of suffering is kind of like asking ask John Wayne to dance Swan Lake, or asking Justin Bieber to sing the part for Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro. 

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Speech and Elderly Self-Perception

In the mid-1990s Becca Levy began a series of experiments to show the importance of how we think about aging.

Levy, who was an associate professor of epidemiology and psychology at Yale University at the time, later published her findings in a 2002 edition of The Journal of Personal and Social Psychology.

Her research involved exposing elderly people to subliminal messages about aging and then asking them to perform a task. Those who had been exposed to negative words such as “decrepit” were found to walk slower, have poorer handwriting, and other behaviors associated with negative stereotypes of aging. On the other hand, those who were first primed with positive words about aging (like ‘wisdom’) performed better. Continue reading

Free Association

Our last two posts have been looking at Freud’s early neural theories, which he developed before going on to be a psychoanalyst. Through Freud’s observation of the brains of fish, he suggested a notion that is now universally accepted within neuroscience, namely that the brain is made of cells and that the nerve cells in the brain are physically separated from one another. It is this physical separation between neurons—the space between the cells—that allows for a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. (We discussed neuroplasticity in our two earlier posts ‘From Localizationism to Neuroplasticity’ and ‘The Adaptive Brain’.)  Continue reading