Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Therapist Types: The Miracle Worker

These are the woo-woo practitioners, the snake-oil salesmen, of the 21st century.  This tradition goes back to the Paleolithic when certain unscrupulous shamans played tricks on their patients to make them think they were healed.  Sometimes the belief alone caused the patient to get better.  Other times, the patient died anyway, probably cursing the quack shaman.  These days, we call this the placebo effect.

Don’t be fooled by the Evidence Based Practice jingle.  That’s just another way of not saying anything at all.  It means about as much as “New and Improved” on a box of detergent.  There are plenty of Evidence Based Practices that are nothing more than placebos.  After all, there is plenty of scientific evidence that placebos can have a positive healing effect.  Thus, anything with a placebo effect can and does get labeled an Evidence Based Practice.

The Miracle Worker type peddles questionable and nonsensical therapies.  Does that mean Miracle Workers are shameless swindlers and mountebanks?  Maybe, but usually not.  Most Miracle Workers sincerely believe in the efficacy of their own therapy but lack the ability or intellectual will to critically analyze their own practices.  He or she (and there doesn’t seem to be a gender preference) present no objective scrutiny regarding their therapy.  Any attempt to apply critical analysis will be met with hocus pocus, meaningless jargon, and if that doesn’t work, the final fall-back of “There are more things in heaven and earth . . . than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Cultic non-therapies include, but are not limited to, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR),  Primal Therapy, Past Life Therapy, Thought Field Therapy (TFT), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) (and variants), brainwave synchronizers (various brands), Orthomolecular Therapy, etc.  These are just a few. There are many more and many therapies to be skeptical about.

The Miracle Worker Symptom List
  • Sounds too good to be true.
  • One easy solution for many or all problems.
  • Feels like you’re being sold something.
  • Counselor uses an excess of scientific-sounding words but without fully explaining their meaning.
  • Explanations of the therapeutic method are confusing and contradictory, or may be overly simplistic.
  • When asked to clarify, the counselor responds with more jargon and gobbledygook.
  • Criticism of the method is responded to with irritability or hostility.
  • The counselor only uses one method of therapy—few or no therapeutic choices are offered.
  • Counselor only collaborates with colleagues who use the same method.

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