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My reflection: How psychotherapy helps people?

Firstly, Counsellor can help clients alleviate emotional stress through various methods.

Insight: Counsellor can assist clients in understanding the causes and development of their current problems and situations, and how these lead to changes in their emotions and behaviors.

Interpersonal communication: Counsellor help clients assess and enhance their methods of interpersonal interaction.

Self-awareness: Counsellor aid clients in recognizing the underlying reasons for their emotions, beliefs, and behaviors.

Problem-solving: Counsellor provide resources, advice, and methods to facilitate problem resolution.

History of Counselling.

The progression of Counselling began from:

  • The late 19th century with psychoanalytic theory (Freud), which emphasized that people's problems arise from their attempt to repress painful childhood experiences and emotions.

  • Behaviourist theory, which emerged in the mid-20th century (1950s), challenged psychoanalysis by emphasizing that people's responses to situations are based on what they learned in childhood, hence, it can be "unlearnt".

  • During the same period, the emergence of "humanism", a theory that emphasizes focusing on how people experience events, such as their feelings and thoughts during the event rather than the event itself, promoted the now widely used "person-centered therapy".

  • In the 1960s, cognitive theory emerged, stressing that problems arise due to people's distorted thoughts.

  • The 1970s saw the introduction of the famous Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which considers thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as interconnected factors. When people can understand with assistance how detrimental thoughts lead to problematic behaviors, they can then change their thoughts and subsequently change their behaviors.

  • Following this, the postmodern late 20th century gave rise to Solution-focused therapy, a theory based on emphasizing individuals' existing strengths and future goals rather than past experiences. This therapy focuses on helping people use their existing strengths to find ways to achieve their goals.

  • At the same time, Narrative therapy helps people separate themselves from their problems and view their lives from a different perspective, offering a "detached, ascended" perspective.

While different Counsellors choose different therapeutic methods due to varying training and personal character, based on what I've learned in social work and my understanding of existing treatment methods such as those used in hospitals and community mental health settings, therapies based on humanism and cognitive behavior, Solution-focused therapy, and Acceptance And Commitment Therapy are universally recognized as effective and scientific methods that guarantee efficacy and reasonable treatment times.

Psychoanalytic theory lacks scientific basis and typically requires long-term, multi-times-per-week treatment. This may be a very stable source of income for Counsellors , however, unless it is a very complex psychological trauma or certain personality disorders, this excessive analysis of past experiences and emotions can often mislead patients and leave them stuck in the past, unable to move forward.

Mindfulness meditation, humanistic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, solution-focused therapy, and Acceptance And Commitment Therapy, etc., are all proven effective and widely applied in modern psychology, largely due to their association with Buddhist thought.

Firstly, mindfulness meditation is directly derived from Buddhist teachings, especially Zen Buddhism and the teachings of the Nirvana Sutra. Mindfulness meditation teaches us to live in the present, be aware of and accept our feelings, thoughts, and emotions, rather than trying to change them. This attitude of acceptance rather than resistance helps to reduce our mental suffering and is a core principle in many psychological therapies.

Humanistic therapy emphasizes the individual's self-actualization and free will, which parallels Buddhism's pursuit of self-realization. Additionally, Carl Rogers, the founder of humanistic psychology, advocated unconditional positive regard, a concept similar to compassion in Buddhism.

The theoretical foundation of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is that our feelings are influenced by our perceptions of things (i.e., cognition), not the things themselves. By changing our ways of thinking, we can change our feelings and behaviors. This concept aligns closely with the Buddhist notions of "emptiness of self" and "dependent origination."

Solution-focused therapy emphasizes focusing on solutions rather than the problems themselves, which resonates with Buddhism's pursuit of liberation. Buddhism teaches us to let go of attachments, which leads to liberation.

Similarly, solution-focused therapy instructs us to concentrate our energy on finding solutions rather than getting overly entangled with the problems.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) combines the principles of CBT and mindfulness meditation, instructing us to accept the things we cannot change while living according to our values. This idea of acceptance and commitment to living out our values has a strong resemblance to Buddhist philosophy.

Overall, these modern therapies that are proven effective and widely applied, share a significant connection with the teachings of Buddhism. This shows that ancient wisdom can contribute valuable insights to modern psychology and therapy, enhancing our understanding and treatment of mental health issues.

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You Can't Rush Your HealingTrevor Hall
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