Talking and listening are the foundation of therapy, but sometimes therapists shake things up with procedures to focus attention on specific elements of healing. A few weeks ago I introduced a buffet table of psychotherapy techniques: some old favorites in the field as well as newcomers. My goal was to give a sense of what therapy provides beyond mere conversation and illustrate some of the unique ways theory is applied.
Descriptions of our work tend to focus on the various psychological theories we use rather than the techniques. Discussing theory does help explain the ideas that underlie the process, but techniques are how many of these theories are put into practice. I thought the techniques needed a series of their own. Just to keep things interesting, I made this overview a Top Ten list.
I also said in the introduction that ranking therapy interventions was fun, but pretty ridiculous. What some clients find transformative others may regard as worthless bunk. And much to some readers' chagrin, effectiveness outcome research was not part of my criteria. Instead, I chose the list based on five factors: creativity, boldness, compassion, mystery and a cool name. I then found experts for each one to describe its coolness. This was the most fun for me, having experts describe the interventions in their own words. Based on my subjective standards, here are the ten interventions that measure highest on this ambiguous yardstick. (click through to see the full article)
The Ten Coolest Therapy Interventions:
That's it. A survey of some of the most innovative, transformative interventions psychotherapy has to offer. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Here are a few others that almost made the cut.
10CTI: Honorable Mentions
Not every therapist uses specific interventions and not every client wants them. Some clients prefer therapy to be a place where they talk and feel heard by a supportive, insightful person with whom they have a trusting relationship. That's all they need to do productive work. Others are looking for tools that bring quick results or have issues that require a special intervention. It all depends on the client's goals.
As I've said before, these techniques require dozens to thousands of hours of training before therapists can use them ethically and successfully. Beyond accurate implementation, an additional skill is knowing when to use them and when to step back. Sure, I can suggest the empty chair (for example), but am I competent to do so? And is this the time and place for it?
If current clients find some of these techniques appealing I encourage them to discuss it with their therapist. Maybe the therapist has the training and hadn't thought to apply it. Maybe they can get the training or they have an opinion why it's not a good fit. It's also possible for a therapist to refer a client to a specialist in a certain technique (like EMDR). It's all about getting the best treatment for the client.