ny_times_article - For Psychotherapy's Claims, Skeptics...

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For Psychotherapy's Claims, Skeptics Demand Proof NY Times | August 10, 2008 | BENEDICT CAREY Good therapists usually work to resolve conflicts, not inflame them. But there is a civil war going on in psychology, and not everyone is in the mood for healing. On one side are experts who argue that what therapists do in their consulting rooms should be backed by scientific studies proving its worth. On the other are those who say that the push for this evidence threatens the very things that make psychotherapy work in the first place. Which side prevails may shape not only how young therapists are trained and what techniques practitioners use in the future, but also how tightly health insurers restrict the therapies they are willing to pay for, and thus how much the estimated 20 million Americans who enter psychotherapy each year have to pay out of their own pockets. Ultimately, some experts say, the survival of one-on-one counseling, or talk therapy, as an accepted mode of treatment for mental disorders may hang in the balance. The issue of which therapies are based on science and which are not has recently become so divisive that the incoming president of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Ronald Levant of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said in a telephone interview that he had already assembled a task force to address the controversy, and to find some common ground on which to anchor future practice. The topic was debated before a raucous, packed hall at the annual meetings of the American Psychological Association in Honolulu, held July 28 to Aug. 1. The association, with more than 150,000 members, is the largest professional association of psychologists. "The split in the
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field is bigger than it ever has ever been," said Dr. Drew Westen, a professor of psychology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University. "The intensity of the acrimony, the distaste, has never been so high." At bottom, the dispute is over the nature of psychotherapy: Is it an intuitive process, more art than science? Or is it more a matter of a therapist following specific procedures that reliably help people get better? Over the last decade, a group of academic researchers has argued for the instruction-manual approach, compiling a list of short-term therapies that studies show work for a variety of mental disorders. The techniques are standardized, easily described in manuals for therapists, and can quickly help people with phobias, panic attacks and other problems. They include cognitive therapy, in which people learn to refute pessimistic or degrading thoughts, and exposure therapy, in which they overcome anxieties by gradually learning to face the situations they fear. This evidence-based approach already has had a significant impact in the
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This note was uploaded on 11/17/2011 for the course PSYCHOLOGY 830:340 taught by Professor Mohlman during the Fall '10 term at Rutgers.

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ny_times_article - For Psychotherapy's Claims, Skeptics...

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