Analytic Vision

Posts Tagged ‘psychotherapy’

What is Schema Dynamics Programming

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 06/07/2017

 

The terminology

“Schema” comes from schema therapy and refers to the maladaptive schemas taxonomy developed by Jeffrey Young, Ph.D. and his collaborators since the ’80s. It is the problem-oriented component of the field, using psychometric questionnaires developed and tested by scientists to evaluate which are the schemas and modes which pathologically influence the emotions, the thoughts, the behavior and the language of the people. Schemas are triggered by traumas, most likely from childhood and, through complications, when activated, may generate discomfort, stress, challenge, failure and ultimately, psychiatric illness.

Dynamics” comes from “Spiral Dynamics”, a field founded in the ’70s by Clare Graves, Ph.D., and it refers to the multiple values levels layered in the personality, which may be changing in time. It is the results-driven component of the field, using advanced psychometric testing developed by professional researchers in order to discover which type of potential and perspective is enabled in order to support the transformational development of the individuals and societies.

Programming” comes from “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” (NLP), the field developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, Ph.D. starting in the ’70s, centered on using complex practical processes in order to provide with models of excellence. Although sometimes presented as a pseudoscience, some fields of NLP, such as metaprograms and values have been psychometrically tested as scientifically valid models of correctly structuring the language, behavior and personality.

ST (schema therapy) and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) have both common roots in Gestalt therapy.

In some NLP Master Practitioner training, the Spiral Dynamics model is studied.

 

Positioning

What are the characteristics of Schema Dynamics Programming? How is SDP different from:

  • Psychotherapy?

  • NLP (neuro-linguistic programming)?

  • Spiral Dynamics?

  • ST (schema therapy)?

  • Coaching?

SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) provides the client with a flexible set of processes for personal transformation. This enables the functions of both psychotherapy and coaching: it works both for the traumas in the past and the goals in the future.

SDP provides a directed structure. The schema dynamic programmer knows how to recognize and measure the results of the changes when dealing with personal issues, professional goals, past, present and future. The structure is directed in the sense that the schema dynamic programmer uses both descriptive complex maps and tools to knows where the client is, knows where (s)he wants to go and, after considering the available options (tools, processes, techniques), chooses one or several procedures to follow and monitor.

To merely give an example, as a difference to coaching, the schema dynamic programmer may offer his/her opinion, contradict the client and give advice if necessary. The schema dynamic programmer is focused on practical exercises and homework which require a solid amount of effort (emotional, and even physical and logistic) from the client. This work is both oriented to the past and the future and it does not accept the personality of the client as a given, but as a starting point in the work done, which is a mere effect of life experiences and environment and may be subject to change.

Using this strategic approach, with the appropriate approach, issues such as introversion, panic attacks, PTSD, psychosomatization, phobias, alixitimy, allergies, emotional stress response, abandonment, mistrust, emotional deprivation, entitlement, abandonment and others (to name just a few) can be completely and ultimately removed and replaced with functional systems within the subconscious and the conscious.

As a set of tools oriented towards professional growth, SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) can provide clients with life-changing experiences which enable them to advance in the Spiral Dynamics model within months (in stead of years) and achieve professional and personal benefits such as:

  • job and career change and performance;

  • happy marriages;

  • increased revenues;

  • status change.

SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) focuses, as ST (schema therapy) does as well, on both emotional and cognitive-rational aspects of the change, but where ST (schema therapy) insists on working with modes (especially considering the psychiatric interventions), SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) insists on working with metaprograms. Where ST (schema therapy) insists on working with imagery, SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) has its own, much more effective and advanced process, designed by its founder. Such processes are similar to several NLP techniques but different from all of them, and it does not necessarily involve trance/hypnosis. NLP is also more focused on fast solving of the surface issues, which may work in alleviating effects but not always causes. For example, a metaprogram change can be successful for a healthy adult, but may be undone if at the root of the metaprogram change there is a maladaptive schema caused by an abusive trauma from the past.

Where ST (schema therapy) insists on analysis, SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) insists on homework and delegating as much of the change work to the client, once (s)he earns the skills and learns the processes a model for personal change. While psychotherapy generally insists on the necessity of the process being administered by a state-approved specialist, the SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) processes can be easy, independently learned and applied by each client, provided (s)he has the appropriate personality and skills inclinations. In this sense, SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) is nearer to coaching. While the client is encouraged to use for the self some of the processes, (s)he is not encouraged to become a schema dynamic programmer with other people without proper supervision.

Spiral Dynamics offers a deep conceptual framework which many of the psychologists and psychiatrists are not aware of and not even most of the coaches. On this foundation, an important SDP premise is that almost any NLP-type process can be run, focusing on developing skills and attitudes, once the maladaptive schemas have started to change in intensity. Thus, Spiral Dynamics offers not only a strategic measuring tool, but also a chart, a map of transformations, a clear direction of development once the client is freed from many of the startling issues and also some tools, for most advanced knowledge.

 

A unified theory of personality psychology

For several decades, clinical psychology and organizational or positive psychology have insisted on different aspects of the human psyche:

  • interpreting the past (retrospection) vs predicting the future (prospection);

  • problems vs. goals;

  • why vs. how;

  • reflective analysis vs. active experience (exercise);

  • addictions vs virtues;

  • learning vs. growing;

  • abstract vs. concrete;

  • personal vs. professional;

  • body vs. mind;

  • solving vs. developing;

  • issues vs. potential;

  • negative vs. positive;

  • mistakes vs. performance;

  • comprehension vs. action;

  • reparation vs. fine-tuning performance;

  • emotions vs. reason;

  • awareness for insight vs. awareness for decision/action;

  • static vs. dynamic; 

  • treating vs training;

  • obstacles vs resources’

  • linear thinking (Aristotelian) vs. systemic thinking (non-Aristotelian);

  • diffusiveness vs. focus;

  • deliberate slowness vs. witty quickness;

  • cautious desurgency vs. exuberant surgency;

  • relationship vs. task;

  • pain vs. excitement;

  • long term vs. medium/short term;

  • acceptance vs. change;

  • diagnosis vs. enhancement;

  • tense strictness vs. moderate willingness;

  • guiding vs. directing;

  • assessment vs. evaluation;

  • teaching vs. knowing;

  • floating vs. flying

and so on.

 

Differentiating for the future

SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) is not the only mixed approach available. It may even not be the best. But it works, and it will be tested of how well it works in comparison to any of the separate components to which it is compared.

SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) is being developed by Ștefan Alexandrescu as a groundbreaking new field with its own applications and is NOT in direct competition with ST (schema therapy), Spiral Dynamics and NLP. It is important that this field would support the development and most especially, the research of these 3 original fields, on which it is grounded. It is not intended as a substitute, but as an alternative, as an enhancer, as a continuation, as it is different from all of the above mentioned.

However, SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) does clearly enter in competition with:

  • regular psychotherapy

  • coaching

Regular psychotherapists and coaches which lack skills and knowledge in all of these three fields are not accredited, nor advised, nor recommended to clients. As SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) is a practical field, the researchers are challenged to devise experimental tests and projects to compare the effectiveness of SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) with either regular psychotherapy and coaching. SDP (Schema Dynamics Programming) is simply different and superior, through techniques, skills and results to regular psychotherapy and coaching. This is not a marketing statement, it is simply a reflection of the reality, based on the obtained. And it’s getting better and better, steady and slowly.

People who are interested in learning these skills are advised to contact Ștefan Alexandrescu directly.

The theoretical component of Schema Dynamics Programming also integrates models from transactional analysis, positive psychology, multiple intelligences, motivational psychology and from landmark specialists such as Jeffrey Young, Clare Graves, Abraham Maslow, Robert Dilts, Anthony Robbins, David McClelland, W. Gerrod Parrot, Robert Plutchick, Brian Tracy (correlating research to be determined) and could be correlated in the future with several other theories. You may download here a synthesis pdf.

Copyright © Ștefan Alexandrescu, 2017. None of the contents of this page can be reproduced without the written express consent of Ștefan Alexandrescu. No exceptions allowed.

If you liked this article, please also read this:

Schema Dynamics Programming with Stefan Alexandrescu (25.12.2016)

How to Live a Perfect Life. Part I. (31.10.2017)

How to Live a Perfect Life, part II. The First 4 Out of 12 Steps, In the Right Order (13.11.2016)

How to Live a Perfect Life, part III. Steps 5-8 Out of 12, In the Right Order (17.11.2016)

How to Live a Perfect Life, Last Part. Steps 9-12 Out of 12, In the Right Order (21.11.2016)

PS: Thanks to Diana Andreea Bădrăgan.

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The Psychometric Measurement of the Self-Esteem by Ştefan Alexandrescu

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 23/06/2011

Scientific abstract

This dissertation paper is comprised of: (a) An analytical and critical approach of the following concepts specific to the psychology of the personality: Self-Esteem Level (SEL), Self-Esteem Stability (SES), Self-Confidence (SC), respect, Self-Respect (SR), ego, narcissism, Frame Of Reference (FOR), ego strenght, pride, character, risk taking, thinking scenario (TS), motivation direction – in the purpose of structuring and differentiating between them – and (b) A research conducted using a psychometric quantitative multidimensional questionnaire, a qualitative inquiry and graphological analysis.

The concepts used in this work come from six areas: Psychology of personality (either for individual, educational or organizational use), psychotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), graphological analysis, transactional analysis (specifically the dramatic triangle comprised within the Karpmann formula) and coaching.

The fields which to which this research has implications or to which it may provide potential insight are: Psychology of personality, organizational psychology, NLP, graphological analysis, methodological research design, life coaching, transactional analysis and psychotherapy.

The main findings of this dissertation, argued by both the meta-analysis and research sections:

  • Self-Esteem (SE) has two different, separate, independent components, which produce different effects:Self-Esteem Level and Self-Esteem Stability. Although neither the previous or the current research clearly establishes a definite structure for any of these, the disseration study correlates in findings to previous approaches and argues based on data the differences proposed as hypothesis;

  • Self-Esteem is a complex, heterogenous psychological metatype, comprised of several concepts, which cannot be simply explained by two or three dimensions easy to describe. It is a metatype, not a metaprogram (MP);

  • Self-Respect and Self-Esteem are categorically separate, individual and independent concepts;

  • Self-Esteem differs from Self-Confidence, although it is not clear whether Self-Confidenceis a part of Self-Esteem (as some sources and own research data seems to indicate) or it is an independent standing concept, in the manner Self-Respect is to Self-Esteem;

  • Narcissism and ego are not dimensions underlining the high Self-Esteem, they are individual different concepts, which rather correlate either with low Self-Esteem or with unstable Self-Esteem, may they manifest as complexes of superiority or as complexes of inferiority;

  • Self-Esteem is a concept rather different from ego strenght and character;

  • Important, fundamental components of Self-Esteem Level are: TS and the degree of goal management;

  • Self-Esteem Level and Self-Esteem Stability can be measured graphologically;

  • Self-Respect is a concept related to respect, in connection with others. It is not clear yet, from the data available, either from previous or current research, which are the definite characteristics of the concepts, relations, but based on concept investigating and on data provided by current research, one cannot investigate self-respect without measuring the relationships each individual has with others;

  • A fundamental behavioral aspect about Self-Esteem is the response to external stimuli, such as: challenge, failure, conflict, distress and violence, either verbally of physically, including especially bullying;

  • Assertiveness plays a major role in correlation with either Self-Esteem Stability or Self-Respect (at the moment unclear, because obtained data does not correlate with theory and previous research in this aspect);

  • The qualitative and quantitative research offer similar findings. The external validitity for this study is not solid, but acceptable;

  • There are conceptual and research findings which support clear directions for future research.

Th e questionnaire development started 2007. The practical research has been applied in 2009-2010 in a population of pupils in the 12th grade in Bucharest highschools (N=123), aged 17-19, taking into consideration the construction of a psychometric scientifically valid instrument for measuring Self-Esteem, using both quantitative and qualitative methods. While the quantitative part has been structured starting from a work of psychotherapists, not researchers, the results have proven to be consistent with similar data findings among previous works.

Key Concepts in this disseration:acceptance, agression, assertiveness, away from, challenge response, character, coaching, communication, competence, conditional, unconditional, depression, development, dignity,distress, dramatic triangle, ego strenght, ego, emotional self-control, external, failure, fame, feed-back, frame of reference, future, goal, graphology, gratitude, happiness, health, high self-esteem, high self-respect,independence, inferiority complex, ingratitude, internal, low self-respect,low, self-esteem,metaprogram, metatype, mistake, motivation direction, narcissism, neuro-linguistic programming, NLP, optimism, persecutor, persistence, personal branding, pessimism, portrait, pride, psychotherapy, reaction to uncertainty, respect, risk taking, saviour, self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-esteem level, self-esteem stability, self-esteem, self-knowledge, self-respect, sense of orientation, sensitiveness, stable, superiority complex, support, teens, thinking scenario, towards, trust, type, unstable, vainglory,victim, virtue, wishful thinking.

 

 

 

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Time Dissipating Made into an Art

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 11/06/2010

Launched in international world premiere in 2009 at Sarajevo, awarded at Transilvania International Film Festival 2010, today comes on the Romanian screens a masterpiece. Wednesaday I’ve been at the press release organized by Tabu.  Congratulations to Cristina Bazavan [ro, blog] for the great PR work she’s doing – Tabu Oscar Party [ro, html] and also this special meeting between the bloggers and the crew. She didn’t knew it, but wednesday I was celebrating my birthday [en, blog] . Excellent gift. Perfect way to end such a day.

I will briefly make a refference on the film itself and then I will write about what I liked the most, from a personal development & psychological perspective. This article is also the fourth in of a series of articles entitled “The Art of Respecting Others” [en, blog] on Analytic Vision, which is intended to make you take a deep look on personality, time and communication.

As Mihnea wrote [ro, html], the movie doesn’t reach its potential climax. The end is predictable and happy, defusing some of the tension built by the screenwriters. As a matter of fact, Razvan Radulescu and Melissa de Raaf  said they considered the ending to be dramatic enough. I am wondering what if Michael Haneke [en, wiki] would have directed this script…  Besides that, it’s simply brilliant. It is the best Romanian tragicomedy since Lucian Pintilie’s Terminus Paradis [en, html].

Also, it brings up front that kind of specific Romanian genius… of transforming something which in essence does not hold value, into a piece of art. I quoted Marcel Iureş in the “Website Story” Chronicle [en, blog]. The lenghts of Romanian films cannot be excused by the pretext: “We’re trying to make it more realistic”, or financed by the contested CNC [ro, html]. Cinema is an art, cinematography is a language, footage is expensive and nobody really gets a dime back from a Romanian film. That’s why it’s so rare that films like Corneliu Porumboiu’s A fost sau n-a fost [en, html] or even better Poliţist, adjectiv [ro, html] find their way into transphorming a disadvantage into a stylistic landmark of cinematographic expression for a masterpiece. It is also the fortunate case for “Felicia, first of  all” [en, html].

“Felicia, first of all” is a film in details. Small details which matter, patiently painting the framework of the characters. The story is centered on very well defined characters, it’s actually a brilliant example of almost unknown actors bringing force to a well-written screenplay with strong characters. It is even better, for though it is a movie with a lot of words in it, every line holds cinematic relevance. There is nothing to cut out. Everything is in its place. It holds to the essence of the deepest Romanian expression of time perception, better than any other of the hundreds of Romanian movie I have ever seen. Actually, I would even recommend it for studying Romanians’ perception on time [ro, blog].

You can actually find a lot of movies in this one. There are so many essential and complex truths underlined  that the authors should be commended for delivering such a brilliant story so simple, so relevant, witheout consulting a psychologist.

“Felicia, first of all” is a film about Romanian lack of emotional intelligence. About dramatic triangles. About how people waste other people’s patience, nerves, minutes, hours, years and ultimately… lives. The final confrontation between Felicia and her mother holds the key for explaining the deep hurt that many of today’s 20 years old – 30 years old people face. As Răzvan Rădulescu said, this is the kind of discussion repeating itself, again, and again, without ever solving anything. All the comedy has in background the drama of a woman confronted with the abyss of communication between her and her mother. The truth Felicia is avoiding to face is that her mother will never understand her. Her parents are not mentally sane, they are merely people who have manifested their will to procreate. Extended to a nation, the communication barriers get monstrous proportions (more of a reason for which if you’re a Romanian, this film is a “must”). Of course, in the film, the discrepancies are neat, diminished, sometimes funny. But the real question that you ask yourself is: “how much was my mother like this character?”, which invites to a moment of silence.

Of course, you could say, the script depicts purely, bluntly, Romanian stupidity. It’s not like you haven’t seen it before. You know it’s there. Still. It does it brilliantly, with art, intelligence and humor. I haven’t laughed in my life at a Romanian movie as I did at “Felicia, first of all”. Seen on the screen, things look more distant: you wouldn’t fully recognize yourself there. There is a small number of films which have the power to catch so much in so little.

It is a movie about how Romanians waste time. It is even below that mundane, insipid, small-level thinking Mircea Eliade was criticising in his essay “Many Forms of Dissipating Time” [ro, pdf] from the ’30s lectures. This is the perfect story of how to waste 8 hours in a day, as opposed to gaining them [en,blog]. As many other things, like government, it is an ideal recommendation like: “if you want to have success, just look at the Romanians and do exactly the opposite”.

******SPOILER ALERT******

In stead of packing beforehand, Felicia leaves this task for completion in the morning of her leaving, therefore keeping an open window for error, wasting time talking with her mother about towels and teacups. Then, she talks on the phone to her sister, without expressing fermness in negotiation. Felicia seems to have forgotten that everything can be changed and you can’t really count on anyone in Romania even for a lift to the airport, you have to have a second plan.

The cat with the broken leg (I won’t say where the cat broke her leg, it’s too brilliant) really takes up the cherry off the top of the cake for the apartment developing climax.

Now let’s see how much more time can we “dissipate” around here…

Second of all, Felicia being “helped” by her mother to get to the airport is another disastrous idea for the character. Of course, she couldn’t have figured her parents would have contributed so much to her being late… but not only that, as we figure out in the end, Felicia was simply waiting to get away from her parents, psychologically tensed. In stead of doing something useful during the taxi ride like read a good book, she wastes it by talking nonsense with her mother.

Then, it could have been foreseen that the traffic would be jammed. In stead of letting her parents phone for a cab, she ought to have called the taxi herself, then stop arguing with her mother in a very specific Romanian style about who pays for the cab.

Judging the time based on an unset clock, coming to check-in with only half on hour before and not showing any hurry is simply stupid. It’s been a real tour de force for Ozana Oancea to credibly assess and show such an “in time” [ro, blog] approach for her character.

The things that get the movie started are simply a series of events  which in the end underline a more  challenging issue, the lack of time and task planning. Felicia’s failing to plan truly becomes her planning to fail. How much is her fault and how much her parents’ ?

In the end, it is about a mother smothering her child’s  time out of her life. It is about coming to an age where you ask yourself how happy are you about your life, concluding the same patterns which make the life of her parents insipid and miserable also affect her. Felicia doesn’t find the strength of accepting the truth and making a change into her behavior. She does not know how to accept her parents and still love them, how not to be upset for who they chose to become, in opposition to a (seemingly) more sane occidental culture. From this standpoint, the final confrontation between Felicia and her mother holds the therapeutic value of the words that many Romanian children would like to say to many Romanian mothers, but never have the guts to.”Felicia, before all” expresses Felicia’s dramatic need to get herself into the first place, to be more assertive, to learn to say “no” without feeling guilty. For all the things that she dares to express in the end, “Felicia, first of all” is THE ROMANIAN MOVIE TO SEE FOR THERAPEUTICAL PURPOSES. It is a movie that might change your life, by bringing more clarity and detachement from all that made you suffer. It brings the problems to their roots, in family.

Still, the character’s claim that “it’s better to get an abortion than to bring a child into the world and then tormenting him or her” is an affirmation made at anger, against the character herself. Actually, Felicia herself is the proof of succeeding against all odds to have a more sane perspective. She is a survivor. She is living proof some therapy CAN make a difference. Not the whole difference, but enough that she could recognize and face her issues. Therefore, the movie itself, as it portraits the characters, argues that it IS better to give the children the chance to grow and develop, even sometimes the parents are the first ones to traumatize the child, without even realizing it.

*****END OF SPOILER ALERT*****

“How much of you do I find in myself?”

Another very appealing issue is the Romanian went to a foreign country, visiting the relatives. As Dan Diaconescu said in the interview from “Kapitalism: our improved formula” [en, html], most of the Romanians who wanted to accomplish something got out of Romania.The question in the end of the movie, began as a joke: “what would you do different, if you were to start your life over?” Is the one which actually haunts Felicia all around the movie. It is the question she avoids putting to herself.

Without emphasizing it, the script also underlies and masterfully explains the drama of the Romanian with the soul in two countries, never gaining an emotional stability from a clear identity, never making peace with the past. Still, Felicia does not come to Romania having any illusions of changing something for the better, but she IS choosing Romania over other vacations destinations. She simply comes to visit her relatives, actually never getting herself psychologically separated from that part of her identity. Actually, coming back to Romania, she visits a part of her soul, but all she’s feeling is emptiness. The bitter emptiness and sorrow for the abyss of communication between she and her parents. The non-existence of a spiritual deeper connection, for the real truth she’s been avoiding is her parents are dead inside.

The tragedy of Felicia is not getting to put her past behind her, as she lives it again and again. And, from an NLP perspective, it’s no wonder, for she obviously vizualizes her time line as being straight through her. If Felicia would have a “meta-time” perspective, she could have a clear dettached perspective in front of her eyes, witheout gettin herself involved, and proactively managing her time.If you wish to read more on time line perspectives or check some videos from the International Psychology Fair in 2008, please access this resource list [ro, blog].

As I started analyzing it from the personal development (time management, NLP) standpoint, I have to mention “Felicia, first of all” is the kind of movie to be watched and analyzed also from the perspective of the Transactional Analysis  “please people” driver – if you’re not familiar with the topic, please read here [ro, php] and here [ro, php] and you can do the test for yourself here [ro, doc].

Felicia’s greatest problem is her psychological need to please others. To be nice, although she is challenged every moment by the idiocy of her parents, especially her mother. In this communication inertia, the expectation of any true authentic communication is an illusion. That’s why, in the end,  she’s telling her mother without any softness everything she hasn’t told her in 40 years. Still, paying careful attention to Felicia’s manner of expressing her emotions, anyone can learn a lesson of assertiveness. Although it’s not perfect, it is well intentioned, honest and I would say even caring. Caring too much is Felicia’s fault, but in the end she does have enough resources to face the truth, and to express it, and to formulate the quite essential questions she is running away from throughout the movie.

I recommend to all of you who start to put questions to yourselves seeing this film to read Eric Berne’s “Games people play” [en, html], translated into Romanian as “Jocuri pentru adulti” [ro, html]. I also strongly recommend to the producers and the PR consultants to get in touch with the Transactional Analysis Romanian Association [site, yahoogroup] to organize a similar view for the therapists, it would have a huge impact.

You can read some of the Romanian bloggers’ chronicles here:

Dan Tanasescu , Magda Mihaila , Adi CiubotariuAlex NegreaGeorge Hari, Inozza, Ana Ciobanu, Andreea Vasile , Rita Aurita, Laura Jigau .

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What Questions to Ask Your Psychologist

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 17/05/2010

[later edit: welcome to the most read article of this blog. enjoy!]

Last week I have met a former client of mine who asked me how to figure out weather the psychologist he is seeking for counseling is more or less competent. So a good question came into my mind. I would like to share with you my own subjective opinion on that.

The psychological & psychotherapeutical market in Romania has developed during the last years, although themselves the service providers don’t pretty much have any clue on how to promote their services. I know the situation is different around the world, so my suggestions won’t be limited to Romania, but applyable all around the world.

Besides that, there are plenty of specialists, among which you can suraly find a good one. So I will give you some suggestions on what to pay attention to.

First of all, stay away from any service providers who are deeply in love with one specific method or type of psychotherapy. A good psychologist, even if (s)he is specialized in one particular form or method of intervention, must know different and alternative approaches and must be able to provide reasons for why (s)he picked it. That is, (s)he can offer argumented opinions on differences between the approaches (s)he studied and must be able to say why (s)he chose a particular specialization. Also, (s)he must be able to tell you on what kind of problems their specialization works better on. Considering different types of problems, there are different types of suitable approaches.

For example, for troubles in childhood which affect the present life of the client, short-term therapy will not do. It might work: psychoanalysis, transactional analysis, psychodrama, hypnosis, cognitive-behavioral approach. It might provide less effects: neuro-linguistic programming  or jungian psychotherapy.

For anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder or burnout, you would use neuro-linguistic programming, hypnosis, cognitive-behavioral approach and even psychiatry but rather not psychoanalysis.

So a good services provider must tell you what type of problems does what (s)he’s good at solves. (S)he might even give you examples of types of problems which he solved of a certain kind. The worst kind of answer that you could get is “this works for everything and with anyone” or “I haven’t tried other methods”. If you hear this, just say hello and walk on by.

Another kind of therapists you should stay away from are those who combine spirituality into therapy, or have new-age approaches. If you do not know what “new age means”, please read and watch documentary here [ro&en, php] and here [ro&en, php]. Stay away from these people. Religion is not therapy, although it can offer therapeutic insight. Therapy is not religion, although it might offer spiritual inisght. Keep them separated.

Another thing which you should pay attention to is weather while during talking to him/her,  (s)he interrupts you. A good psychologist must have the ability to listen first, especially while talking to a potential client, and not cutting him/her off while (s)he tries to put questions. A psychologist must, before all, have respect for the client’s inner reality, beliefs and values. That’s why a good psychologist will not approve or disapprove in any manner and in neither case will it emit judgements upon a client’s saying without prior understanding their inner world. A client does not need get the psychologist’s approval, but understanding. The experience of a psychologist does NOT determine their quality as a professional. One can be 30 years of experience and not have basic listening skills and one can have 1 year of experience and have a great deal of interpersonal skills. The quality of the service provided does not depend upon the experience, but upon the personality. Remember that before passing any judgement on psychotherapists or psychologists.

For example, if you believe that UFOs are driven by aliens, I myself would think you’re talking bananas, but that is my own opinion and I am not a psychologist. But a service provider in this field is not allowed to pass any form of judgement, no matter how silly your belief might seem to them. It is your belief and you are entitled to any belief you desire, consciously or uncounsciously. The psychologist must accept it as part of your model of the world, listen to your opinions and respect them, no matter how different they are from their perception.

Ask the psychologist on which criteria does (s)he determine the number of sessions necessary for a certain type of problem and how (s)he structures his/her time during the therapy and during each session. A good service provider must be able to convince you that (s)he has a strategy that has been proven to work.

Ask the psychologist of any potential challenges (s)he has met during his/her career, especially in confrontation to a certain ethical aspect from the psychologist’s deontological code. If (s)he says (s)he has never had challenges it is because:

a) (s)he’s lying

b) doesn’t have enough experience  or

c) doesn’t know the ethical requirements of the job.

Nobody is perfect, and a good psychologist would not deny challenges. (S)he might avoid to answer the question, but (s)he wouldn’t deny such challenges exist. It is better for you to get an answer when putting this question.

Another question to ask is what is the longest period a client has been in therapy. If the service provider answers: “oh, I have clients which go back years, about 3-4”, say hello and walk on by. A therapist who does his job does not make a certain client dependent on him or her, but makes sure that client is getting improvement throughout the process. In some cases, therapy might even take up to 2 years, but any good psychologist, when going after a certain term, must be able to explain WHY (s)he decided to continue therapy with that particular client. Even if it’s a process that takes time, it doesn’t have to take too much time, otherwise you might just be looking at an incompetent or a money-drier.

Ask him or her about the training (s)he’s taken, and about his/her plans for personal development. Such a job requires continuous improvement. If since completing licence or master’s degree, the only training (s)he took was in the main area of expertise (let’s say, psychoanalysis, or hypnosis, or transactional analysis – but only one), it is rather likely that psychologist does not have a broad enough perspective. A good service provider must continuously improve himself/herself.

Ask the service provider what tools of diagnosis does (s)he have. How did (s)he acquired those skills, where did (s)he practice them and for how long? An important part of solving the problem is to call for a right diagnosis. How much time is it alloted to diagnosis? A good psychologist would allot at least 1-2 initial sessions for diagnosis and also must tell you that there is a variate set of diagnosis tools. In some cases, simple questioning might do it, and some might say they have just developed that intuitively. Even if that is the answer, the service provider must explain where did (s)he learn it from, for how long, where did (s)he practiced it, with who, and with which results.

Some psychologists, due to the long process of training, become stiff and tend to think they know it all. The good ones don’t. So they are open to feed-back, as they know feed-back is source for continuous improvement. A good question is “What feed-back did you recently applied and worked”. If they make a pause or look at you blank, just say hello and walk on by.

And, as a final tip, to get a business approach, you can ask the psychologist what’s his/her charge and then put the question: “what are you offering me for this money?” and you will see weather the service provider has a selling pitch or not.

Remember that a psychologist may claim a number of things, but in the same time, (s)he must be able to argument each of those claims with training and/or experience. The simple fact of not complying to some of these request doesn’t mean that the psychologist you’re talking to is incompetent or wants to rip you off. It might not be their fault. In the mean time, the fact that a service provider is well-intentioned or sure of himself/herself doesn’t mean that you should just blindly write a white check and definitely trust them. Some of them might do you more harm than good, even without realizing it.

Another thing to pay attention to is to judge carefully for references. If a friend of yours says a certain psychologist is great, it might mean that service provider is good for them. Not necessarily also for you.

Considering you expect to pay for getting quality questions from a service provider, be sure to get the right answers to earn quality!

I consider that excellent professionals and unfortunate incompetents exist. Both get clients. The problem is that an incompetent ruins someone’s trust to get a good service provider and an excellent professional might not help a customer due to harm done to him/her by an incompetent.

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