the-e-r asked: I'm not sure if this is your specialty, I know you're more mental health than anything else but I will still ask. I had a psychology professor tell me in all seriousness that "psychotherapy doesn't work. Talking therapy doesn't work the data behind it proves it. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most promising." I was hoping you had some insight on this? If not that's okay, it's just I never heard someone with a PhD say a well known form of therapy doesn't' work. Thanks!
Everyone has their own opinion on this: especially academics, who tend to be quite stubborn and opiniated (if my experiences at Oxford were anything to go by!).
What they may have been alluding to was the lead that therapies like CBT definitely have on the relatively modern paradigm of ‘evidence-based practice’. There’s no doubt that there’s a wealth of studies and data relating to the efficacy of CBT, but I will say now that my best advice to you as a student is to question everything.
- Why does CBT research receive more funding?
- Is there is a disparity between the subject matter of therapy research papers submitted and those published? (i.e. are lots of different therapies researched and submitted but mainly CBT research published?)
- Why are many Governments pushing CBT as their ‘go-to’ talking therapy (e.g. in the UK where the IAPT [Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies] programme is pretty much entirely based on CBT)
If you were cynical about the political agenda surrounding therapy, you could argue that this therapy is fashionable at the moment in the UK at least because it’s brief (on average 10 to 12 sessions) i.e. it costs way less money for public services like the NHS to administer.
I won’t answer these questions for you, but they’re some interesting topics to read around to perhaps start a debate with, or end up agreeing with, your professor (depending on the conclusions you reach). Good luck!!
Edit: I should also add that you should consider whether any therapy can ever ‘win’ as a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Surely rather than saying “Which therapy works best for everyone?”, shouldn’t we instead be asking “Which therapy is most appropriate for the needs and concerns of each particular person?”?