Personal Change Strategies: the State of the Art

The two most potent forms of psychotherapeutic intervention each make some level of transformation available, though each is more helpful in the presence of the other.

Mindfulness strategies achieve detachment from cognitive experience, especially distressing thoughts.  Its pitfalls include the requirement of extensive meditation practice and a passive approach to cognitive restructuring.

CBT (Cognitive-Behavior Therapy) achieves change of the cognitive frame, usefully altering one’s perspective. Its pitfalls include the potential for a person to be overcome by intense emotion, which can be helped by combination with mindfulness.

In counseling situations, both can lack the innate power of therapist warmth, which the humanistic style, itself lacking strategic power, so amply supplies. Emotional detachment also can be a problem for people who use either of these approaches in their personal lives.

Warmth can be supplied as an additional ingredient to the above systems, which the best therapists of both types of practice already do (see Castonguay reference in The Tao of Your Psychotherapy Practice, see also the Buddhist concept of “Metta,” since  Mindfulness is a Buddhist-based intervention.)

When warmth is present in counseling sessions, the resulting alliance brings a strong suggestion effect, especially important to the Mindfulness approach because it can substitute for much of the time otherwise needed for meditation practice.

The combination of Mindfulness and CBT is complementary and is currently available.  Both approaches, in their own ways, combat patterns of thought that are outdated and dysfunctional.

However, in both, painful thoughts are the enemy.

Accordingly, both systems lose the opportunity available to harness the tremendous psychological energy trapped within painful cognitive structures.

A third step is something that I call “dynamic psychological attunement” (DPA), which aims beyond transformation (change in form) to transmutation (altering the nature of something).

In other words, DPA aims past even transformational change, seeking to harness cognitions deemed inappropriate as well as emotions experienced as negative.

It comprises the third step in transformational excellence, after mindfulness and cognitive restructuring.

The approach achieves this by applying a model of cognition informed by research on stress, in combination with philosophic insights on harnessing those energies that would otherwise be overwhelming (see The Tao of Your Psychotherapy Practice for a full treatment of this).

Because of the client-therapist alignment  innate to DPA, a strong therapeutic alliance is natural, with mutual warmth between the client and therapist growing from the combination of the therapist’s acceptance and even utilization of those elements of the clients’ makeup that they themselves like least.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2012 at 5:20 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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