Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Insight? No thanks.

Does insight really lead to happiness in the lives of clients? This question has been debated and remains unanswered. A NY Times article discusses this and had found that when comparing different types of psychotherapy, little difference can be seen between theories such as cognitive behavioral, which attempts to correct distorted thoughts and feelings, or a psychodynamic approach that focuses primarily on insight. However, a client is likely to feel better regardless of which theoretical orientation is employed. Insight is not necessary or sufficient.

Is it possible that it can at times even make whatever a client is going through worse? Absolutely. The author of the article talks about a client who was a successful financial analyst, but was bored with work and found it unfulfilling. His insight led him to be extremely hard on himself because he found himself where he was as a result of attempting to please a demanding father. While he had insight, he was not any better for it. It made him hate himself for not being able to stand up to his father.

I am currently making my way through Connecting by Larry Crabb. In the beginning of his book he talks about different models counselors use. One is called the treatment/repair model. This model proposes that problems are caused by psychological damage. To cure this damage, we fix what is wrong by an increase in self-awareness through insight. Crabb then goes on to say it is not necessarily that easy and presents his own model.

Crabb believes that problems are caused by a disconnected soul. The cure to this is to release what is good by means of identifying and nourishing new life through connecting.

I could not help but view Crabb’s approach with hesitation, but after looking at the article in the NY times, I can’t help but think that he may be onto something.

If insight is not always the answer and sometimes makes the problem worse, where do we go?

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