Progressive Psychology: A New Interactive Model
Jul 25, 2013 12:15PM
By Linda Sechrist
Psychology, which emerged as a distinct discipline approximately 50 years ago, has evolved far faster into its many different forms than the perceptions that surround it. Due to outdated misconceptions, the public image of therapy is still about resting on a leather couch while hashing out a Pandora’s Box of childhood stories. Contrastingly, the majority of individuals that seek counseling today do so for specific, treatable issues—being stuck in an unfulfilling job or relationship, overcoming obstacles to goals, finding the courage to overcome an adversary, taking a risk or dealing with anxiety about the fear of change. The Journal of Counseling Psychology reports that 42 percent of patients average just three to 10 visits, all while sitting in a chair.
One reason why things have changed may be a matter of a more interactive client/therapist approach, according to a recent study by the National Institute for Health and Welfare, in Finland. Local therapists such as Lori Grifo, Ph.D., Of Sound Mind, Inc. (773-698-8400, OfSoundMindInc.com), founder; Susan Lipshutz, a licensed clinical social worker and founder of Everyday Medicine Woman (312-787-7077, EverydayMedicineWoman.com); and Ellen Goode, a body-based psychotherapist and founder of Integrative Bodywork Therapy/Body Based Psychotherapy (312-504-4106, BodyBasedPsychotherapy.net), who serve as guides to help clients reach their own conclusions, find that an interactive approach, along with the use of take-home problem-solving tools, is very successful.
Of Sound Mind, Inc.
The stress of losing a job or the roof overhead, unwanted divorce, custody battle, insomnia, work stress and low self-esteem are some of the reasons why individuals seek the services of Grifo, who specializes in progressive psychological techniques that help individuals overcome obstacles and turn their life around. “We’re so acculturated around so many issues that I initially have to help my clients come out of their blind trance before they can change the way they exist within the culture. Awake, they can see and feel things at much subtler levels, so that they can respond and take control with the techniques that I teach them,” explains the veteran psychotherapist of 28 years.
Although Grifo’s approach to therapy largely focuses on the present, rather than the past, there are times that a client needs to deal with more challenging issues underlying present behaviors. To help them do this, Grifo uses several modalities—mindfulness training, eye movement desensitization (EMDR), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and internal family systems therapy. She also uses cutting-edge equipment that is recognized as effective treatment for symptoms ranging from panic, anxiety, stress and depression to managing pain, traumatic memories, flashbacks and body memories.
“In the old mental health model, the therapist owned the toolbox. In the newer version, we give it away and assign homework that sometimes includes journaling and reading self-help books from our lending libraries,” enthuses Grifo.
Everyday Medicine Woman
Through 25 years of teaching and practicing integrative psychotherapy, Lipshutz has described her role as a co-creator, whose clients actively engage in learning how to live more deeply and at one within. Her model of therapy for the well-being of individuals is an active collaboration between therapist and patient. “The old medical model of psychotherapy focused on pathology and sought to eradicate symptoms. My integrative model weaves ancient Earth-honoring healing approaches with cutting-edge paradigm shifts that see our potential as limitless when we tap into our universal knowledge and live from our higher hearts. The natural response to reconnecting with your ancient wisdom and learning to understand yourself is feeling better than ‘good,’ and also realizing a greater return on the investment in yourself,” explains Lipshutz, whose integrative approach offers clients seminars, workshops and retreats that provide an intentional community within which to share heal and grow.
Lipshutz would like to see university curricula include more innovative, integrated approaches to psychology, simply because an increasing number of clients are looking for cross-cultural practices and nontraditional tools. “Many clients come with information that they researched. They want to turn their experience into wisdom and realize that they are bigger than any experience or circumstance. This means that they want to live a more empowered life with meaning and purpose,” clarifies Lipshutz.
Body Based Psychotherapy
Goode’s innovative approach to therapy emerged from the perspective that our life story is written in the tissues of our body. “Understanding how we live in and carry ourselves in our body as a result of that story allows us to know and respect ourselves more deeply. It also determines how we make contact in the world,” says Goode, a certified alcohol and drug abuse counselor.
“To be intact and feel intact, we have to be fairly congruent. This means we can feel how our hearts, minds, gut, and actions are aligned, and that we are as much of ‘the person we want to really be’ as possible. It also means that our insides match our outward expression, and that what we need to express can flow clearly and freely through to the surface. This flow of integrated expression is important in words, thoughts, and actions,” advises Goode, who has 25 years of experience.
Body-based psychotherapy supports and guides individuals on a deep level of bodily awareness and cognitive understanding, using a developmental and relational framework to integrate the meaning of an individual’s experience. “Using bioenergetic analysis, I work with three basic concepts that parallel how we function in the world—grounding, breathing and body reading,” says Goode. To be grounded, energy and awareness are moved downward and connected into the lower half of the body, where overwhelming and devastating emotions are not felt. Using the breath, we can have a natural sense of ourselves and sense of our responsiveness that happened before the trauma, abuse or traumatic loss.
Body reading is looking at each person’s unique bodily expression and understanding the specific bodily adaptations that they created in order to survive. “I act as a facilitator for clients who want to explore their connection with their self and others in a more meaningful and powerful way. This therapy can help people grow into their life, self and relationships with a fuller clarity and purpose,” enthuses Goode.
According to Jonathan Alpert, a New York psychotherapist and the author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days, people want therapy that helps them focus on goals and outcomes, and they want to graduate from it. Using today’s more progressive model of psychotherapy, it appears that it may be possible to graduate as an honor student.