However, if you enter the words, “failure in psychotherapy” the number drops to 75, less than 20 of which are actually on topic.
How to interpret such results when research shows 50% of people who enter treatment fail to benefit in any meaningful way? The numbers being what they are, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion than we avoid the subject.
Contrast our field’s relative indifference with the approach of the aviation industry. Where we avoid the subject, they embrace it, using each instance to learn and improve. The result? The safety of air travel has improved dramatically, with fatalities dropping from around 40 per million departures in the late 50’s and early 60’s, to near zero in recent years. By contrast, during the same span of time, retention and outcome rates in psychotherapy have not improved a single percentage point.
Thankfully, recent developments are challenging the status quo, putting failure center stage in a renewed effort to facilitate professional development. One of these is a new and deeply moving podcast series, “Very Bad Therapy,” run by two graduate students, Ben Fineman and Carrie Wiita. Each installment features a different client sharing a, “You would not believe what happened with my therapist” story.
Ben and Carrie are skillful and entertaining interviewers, teasing out nuances and helping reveal the rich learnings hidden in the worst moments of our work as therapists. Consider this, already they’ve published more episodes than there are books on the subject at Amazon!
Check it out. And while you’re there, listen to Episode #18, their most recent. Once again, the subject is failure and professional growth. This time, the person being interviewed is me!
Until next time,
P.S.: Registration for the Spring intensives on Feedback Informed Treatment (FIT) is open! Each year, we sell out months in advance. Click here for more information or to reserve your spot.