Tuesday, October 18, 2005

For Some Psychologists, Being Different Means Getting the Boot!

In just another example of how dysfunctional some psychologists can be in their interactions with each other, Albert Ellis, one of the founders of cognitive behavioral therapy is being ousted from the very institute he founded in New York City. I was in graduate school in the 1980's at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan and studied the principles of Albert Ellis's work. His rational-emotive therapy focused away from childhood trauma and instead, dealt with the distorted beliefs that patients had about their current lives. I have found cognitive behavioral therapy to be extremely effective with many of the clients I see now. It is a shame that such a maverick should have to deal with those who do not understand his genius.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious.

Is it just my personal experience (I had a friend who went through some loosey-goosey CBT for BPD -Lord help her), or did someone usurp CBT at some point, focusing much more deeply on the B (as being more managable and objective) than the C (which actually requires thought and effort to nail down)? Or was it always like that?

I've found that incorrect focus to be its greatest flaw.

1:26 PM, October 18, 2005  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi annonymous,

I assume from your question that you are talking about two different types of therapy--cognitive therapy refers to Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck's work which focuses on changing the irrational or distorted beliefs that patients have and teaching patients more objectivity so they do not overreact to situtations. For example, a patient may say, "I always mess up" which is an exaggeration or in your BPD friend, a thought such as "She/he is out to get me, I better strike first" is a distortion of thought that should be addressed and replaced with something more rational.

Behavior therapy, on the other hand focuses on changing unadaptive behavior by weakening them or eliminating them and adaptive behavior is initiated and strengthened. There is little concern with subjective feelings, or internal states. Cognitive therapy should focus on changing the thoughts to change the behavior--if your friend was not doing that in her therapy, perhaps it was purely behavioral--or maybe just loosey-goosey. Sorry she did not find it helpful.

1:57 PM, October 18, 2005  
Blogger nk said...

Interesting comments. I only have a B.A. in Psychology from a program which was heavily Skinnerian. In the intervening 26 years I have come to appreciate double-blind prospective studies with low P-values -- something which does not exist in cognitive psychology. A round-about way of saying that Dr. Ellis got his legitimacy politically -- from peer acceptance -- and is now losing it in the same way. Which is not to say that I disrespect Psychology -- even an inexact science can be useful -- I am only saying that that is the sea he chose to swim in. Drs. Watson and Crick (the discoverers of DNA) would have never had to face this situation.

8:25 PM, October 18, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like it's an issue of money and control... both of which the current board now has in abundance after tossing out Dr. Ellis. Amazing how that works.

If it wasn't such hard work, they could go found their own institute - but that would mean extra work for them and building a brand name and no guarantee of success. Always follow the money... it has an even brighter trail than differences over type of therapy.

8:55 PM, October 18, 2005  
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