A new era of contemporary psychological therapy

A new era of contemporary psychological therapy, delivering robust practice-based research and an integrative intervention in the public sector using digital platforms, on-going monitoring and measurement and a focus on service-user experience, understanding, empowerment and recovery.

As we enter a new year and, hopefully, a new era, are there some aspects of what we do that we would like to bring with us on the landscape of contemporary psychological therapy and some we could usefully leave behind and some that we could draw a line under and start to work above and beyond that line. Forgive the potential allusions to other areas that might be justifiably implicated in the above statements.

EASE Wellbeing CIC continues to deliver a form of existential-phenomenological-humanistic psychological therapy in the #primary care sector of the NHS. We bring with us some of what we know and continue to evolve through #practice-based #research and #client #feedback and outcomes and build upon foundations that are solid.

Can we now bring with us certain ideas such as the knowledge that therapy works better than no therapy? Can we now accept that no therapy has established itself as better than another?

Can we leave behind us professional biases about what is this or that therapy is in favour of articulating clearly what the therapeutic endeavour is aimed to deliver on? Can we leave behind us debates about what recovery means or whether clients want to change?

Can we draw a line that now addresses all human beings’ needs to live a satisfying as possible life within the ontic limitations of such lives, whether they are therapists or people asking for therapy?

Can we now reach for a more adequate exploration and language that embrace human distress and suffering and present a concrete challenge to the medical model that informs dominant taxonomies of disease and is fuelled by corrupt affiliations between stakeholders and pharmaceutical companies?

Everyone encounters difficulties in the course of their lives. At EASE, service providers, called clinicians, and service users, called clients, both have to find the courage to face each other with their concerns to create a truly collaborative endeavour. By this I mean that it takes courage to enter therapy and present oneself as willing and motivated to look at life’s difficulties as a client and we expect clinicians to also have the courage to attend to their own difficulties and have the courage to sit with the pain of the other to be a therapist who is present and able to tune into the world of the therapy encounter.

Thus, we at EASE consider existential ideas in the broadest form of the use of this language to mean addressing the living experience of the client. In this endeavour, we turn to certain aspects of the doing of therapy by drawing on historically acknowledged information about certain common factors as well as developing contemporary and innovative ideas, such as focusing upon client-attributable factors and using creative ways of understanding what it is that a client wants from therapy.

Our struggle has been to embrace the tension identified by Plato in Meno’s Paradox and addressed by Merleau-Ponty. That is the notion that in order to discover something one needs to know what one is looking for versus how can one discover anything new if one already knows what one is looking for? In order to do this, we have published and presented a number of ideas in journals and conferences.

To summarise:

Change is inevitable ontologically and in therapy we have illustrated what this change may look like – ref JHP 2015 results
Understanding is a form of change thus can be considered as valid as previous publications have demonstrated – ref (CORE Blimey)
Evidencing this is clearly possible without challenging the current measurement systems (ref Hermeneutic Circular/JHP/ Grids paper in print and previous)
Our ongoing programme of research now turns to delivering a replicable protocol that allows for personalising the approach of the EASE intervention (JHP 2016) and focusing upon how clients reflect upon their experiences of therapy (ref research in progress ). Initial findings both do what most research does, which proves what it sets out to prove but, more importantly, give rise to what may be useful in future research. Given our commitment to evolving this and that we exist in the health and social care organising system that we live in, means that we have to communicate in language that addresses public sector requirements around adherence. Further, however, this research indicates that there is more interesting work to be done to focus more rigorously on what clients want from therapy and establish potentially optimal length of therapy to manage clients’ expectations.

Given the statements I began with, this opens up much interesting work to be done. Three areas that are on the horizon and being considered currently are: first, delivering different lengths of therapy with ‘similar’ client groups to identify if there are differences and what they might be around length of therapy; second, to review what clients articulated was beneficial about therapy and build upon this; third, if the therapeutic relationship is an important factor in the percentage of positive outcomes of therapy, establishing what the essential qualities in this ‘relationship’ are or might be. Of course, these may have overlaps and be intertwined in certain ways as clinical work and research are also but both and all are aimed at clarifying and re-clarifying in the spirit of the one phenomenological project we may only ever need to do since every person we see in therapy adds to our understanding of human existence and struggles.

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