Customized data-supported therapy to improve your quality of life
Distress of some sort can lead us to consider therapy. This distress can be reliably relieved with therapy. Usually, however, clients have an accompanying deeper goal: to improve their quality of life.
The role of beliefs in one’s quality of life
Grim unconscious beliefs about what we deserve in life and relationships diminish our quality of life (Weiss & Sampson, 1986). Such beliefs are usually come by honestly. Someone who feels undeserving of protection in a close relationship often grew up with an abusive caregiver. Someone who believes his needs are less important than others often grew up with a self-absorbed caregiver.
Why would anyone ‘choose’ to believe such despairing things? It often starts as kids where being yourself endangered a caregiver’s willingness to be there for you. Evolution dictates that kids must first secure a caregiver’s attachment. Then and only then can they turn towards their own development. When a caregiver is psychologically compromised the kid must sacrifice his own development to secure the parent’s attachment.
The case of Joan*
Consider Joan who’s mother had to feel superior to others or she would fall into a sullen depression. Joan learned that when she acted without deference to her mother that her mother withdrew from her. Joan assumed that it was her fault her mother could not tolerate her liveliness. She developed the belief that “If I am powerful I make others feel diminished”. This belief left Joan in her own state of depression and willing to defer to her mother. The belief was adaptive in that it kept her emotionally brittle mother willing to be there for her. Unfortunately for Joan it very much hurt her own quality of life.
How can therapy free you from such beliefs?
I offer therapy that systematically helps you identify and disconfirm the beliefs that stand in your way. A large body of research shows that this is the crux of effective therapy. Whether you come to therapy with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and/or trauma-based problems, this approach can work.
Just as such beliefs were come by honestly so can they be disconfirmed with new experiences. The task in therapy is to realize at a deep level that such beliefs are no longer necessary to secure others’ willingness to attach to you. This doesn’t mean having to re-parent oneself or dwell on the past. When such beliefs are operative our attention tends to skew towards experiences that support that belief. Therapy allows clients to safely consider other sources of information about themselves and the people in their lives that defy the troublesome belief. Clients like Joan get to discover that most of her friends care about her even when she speaks her mind. She can also learn to distance herself from people who only care about her when she submits to them.
What is good therapy?
The beauty of Control-Mastery Theory is how simply it defines the therapeutic process. John Curtis, George Shilbershatz, Hal Sampson and Joseph Weiss distilled the process of good therapy down to four questions for clients:
1. What are your goals?
2. What beliefs currently stand in your way?
3. What experiences have led to these beliefs?
4. How can the therapy help you disconfirm these beliefs?
The movie Good Will Hunting provides a fantastic example of how these questions were answered for Will. I encourage you to read this blog post for an in-depth understanding of how these four questions guide and explain good therapy.
Data-informed good therapy
Benefits to this approach
- Therapy based on an empirically supported theory and model of treatment
- Customized data-informed therapy based upon your individual goals
- Measurable feedback on your progress
- Catching what is and is not working in sessions so that you get the best treatment possible
John Curtis , George Silberschatz , Harold Sampson & Joseph Weiss(1994). The Plan Formulation Method, Psychotherapy Research, 4:3-4, 197-207.
Silberschatz, G. (2013). Transformative Relationships The Control Mastery Theory of Psychotherapy. Florence: Taylor and Francis.
Weiss, J., & Sampson, H. (1986). The psychoanalytic process: Theory, clin. observations, and empir. research. New York u.a.: Guilford Pr.