I’ve come to Tom Thumb because I have to prove a point to you. Most of you out there trying to learn how to do Psychotherapy and specifically learn how to do Solution Focused Brief Therapy are making the biggest mistake in the world, and I want to help you. I wanna help you overcome that mistake. I wanna help you not make that mistake.
And I need to come to Tom Thumb to do little grocery shopping in order to show you how to not make it. So come on with me. Soda number one, I’m going to get my favorite drinks. I’m going to really hate you after this. Thank you. Ma’am. So I told you that people in our field have a tendency to make a mistake in our training, in our learning of Psychotherapy. And I want to talk to you about that mistake.
You know, I will never forget going to graduate school and getting the book that was in the general counseling class, where each chapter represented a different theory of Psychotherapy. You know, the first chapter was about Sigmund Freud, and literally in the first paragraph, that first chapter, it said, this is how people learn and change. And it went into Freudians theory on how people learn and change. And I was so excited to be learning how to be a Psychotherapist. I just took it as like, oh, so this is what I’m going to be doing with my clients. I didn’t really know at the time that different theories have different ideologies and different ways of doing things.
I was just reading chapter one, paragraph one, and super excited. And then I remember going to class and we studied the Freudian theory and everything was really cool. And, and then at the end of that class, the professor assigned chapter two go read chapter two and I go home and I read chapter two and it was about Jung. And it said this is how people learn. And this is how people change. And it was very different than Freud. In fact, he made a point of saying, I disagree with Freud in these ways. And I thought, huh! So there are two different ways of going about things. And then the next week it was chapter three, which is about Adler and the same thing.
No, no, no. Those two were wrong. This is how people learn and change. And I thought, huh! Now there are three. And it turns out there are over 200 recognized approaches to doing our work as professionals. And I noticed that what people do is they try to compare them and try to combine them and try to mix and match the approaches.
People often say I borrow from different theories to make my own theory. And I want to talk to you about that and why we should not do that. And I’m going to use some of my favorite drinks to make this point. So here are my, some of my favorite sodas. And if I take each soda individually, I experienced them as delicious.
Now, here is Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, orange soda, orange juice, and chocolate milk, which was one of my favorites as a child. Now, if I take each one of them individually and have a sip of them, I experienced them as delicious, right? If I could just grab one there each one, delicious. And if you think about what goes into the creation of each drink, like there is lots of research, taste testing, laboratory work. There’s lots that goes into the preparation of each one of these before the recipe is approved and then put into these bottles for people’s consumption in a way these are evidence-based drinks in the same way that we have evidence-based theories of Psychotherapy.
And in fact, each one of these could represent a theory of Psychotherapy, right? Like Solution Focused, Narrative Therapy, CBT, Adlerian Therapy, and who knows EMDR, whatever. It could be anything. But when we think about this, we think like, wow, I really like the taste of SFBT. And I really liked this of Narrative Therapy. And I really liked that of CBT. And I really liked this Adlerian Therapy and I really like this an EMDR.
And then we have the thought, right? We have this thing where I can taste it. Oh, it’s really good. Right. We consume. And we think, man, it tastes excellent. And then we have the thought that gets into trouble. And what we think is I have to match each flavor with each client, which is not true.
Believe it or not, there’s actually no research in our field whatsoever that says that we benefit from trying to match clinical problem with intervention or clinical approach. Then we have another thought that gets us into trouble. And we think if I like things about this and I like things about this, and I like things about this and I like things about this and I like things about this.
If I combine them, then I’m making an even greater approach, right? If I mix what I like about SFBT with CBT, then I have an even better approach. And here’s what happens. now it’s about to get gross. So look pouring a little SFBT, a little Narrative Therapy, little CBT, little Adlerian, little EMDR, whatever Motivational Interviewing. It doesn’t matter. It could be anything. And then we think, look, I’ve taken all the things that I enjoy and I combined them into one drink, but does that drink tastes good? Negative? No, no, it does not taste good. Right? Because just because I combined the things doesn’t mean that the end result is a positive result.
But even if it were, if I took all of these things and combine them and I poured them into one thing and let’s say it was a amazingly delicious drink, let’s say it was a wonderfully flavorful drink. I don’t have the research behind it because once I combine these things, I’ve created something new and I no longer have the research. I no longer have the backing.
I no longer have the ability to demonstrate that this new thing is as effective as the individual parts. All of the research that went into making these recipes approved and available for human consumption are now thrown off, are now thrown off because once I combine them, I’ve made something new. And I now would have to do the same level of rigorous testing for this new thing.
This is why I do not understand eclecticism because we think if we combined therapy approaches we’re somehow being more effective as therapists, when it’s clear that we’re being less effective. So what should we do? How do we address this? What you do is you find the flavor that works best for you. People ask me all the time,
like people comment to me all the time and they say things like, you know, I like things about all of these therapy approaches. I don’t know how I can pick one. And I always tell them, you’re asking yourself the wrong question. The question isn’t which one of these flavors do I like? The question is which one can I see myself doing throughout my career?
Now the truth is you could like something about all therapy approaches in the same way that I like things about all of these drinks. But which one can I see myself doing for the rest of my career? It’s actually one that’s not pictured here. It’s water, right? So you have to, you have to pick the thing that you could see yourself doing for the rest of your career.
And then that will guide you to the approaches you should be using. And we have to stop trying to combine things that don’t go together. We also have to recognize that even if they did go together, the end result is a new product. And thus we would have to do a different level of rigorous testing to make sure that it is as effective as the individual parts.
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