Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued
APPENDIX
How to do Psychotherapy — According to Felicity
Introduction — Starters’ Starters
An appendix is a part of the body thoughtfully afforded by Providence to be deleted, to his pecuniary advantage, by a surgeon or other person who edits parts. It is an unnecessary appendage attached loosely (for easy removal) to the non-functioning end of the colon – which is a device to represent the completion of a thought. This appendix is no different from any other.
It is manifestly superfluous, even stupid, to tell anyone ‘how to do psychotherapy’. Everyone knows how to do psychotherapy. It just involves pretending to listen to the other person until he or she can be cut off politely [or until the session is over, the end of the allotted time. RR] Then, returning the attention to its proper focus (oneself) and, using the vast array of one’s own personal experience, the assumptions of one’s favourite notions about personality and how people change and one’s own good common sense, it involves telling the other person what to think, believe, feel and do – knowing full-well that he or she has never before considered that particular and insightful way of viewing things.
Felicity does not doubt that the last paragraph describes the facts – about how the majority of what passes as psychotherapy is practised. Psychotherapists, trained or otherwise, are to be found lurking everywhere. They are almost as populous and demoniacal as the telephone, and even more extravagant, infesting the entire habitable world and the United States. Probably, many (not all) of them have mastered the first of the four basics which are required before one starts to learn how to do psychotherapy. What most of them lack is basic training in how human beings function (i.e., the science of psychology), how things go wrong in human functioning (i.e., clinical psychology) and how human functioning is induced to change or correct itself (i.e., learning). After mastering those basics, it becomes meaningful to proceed to learn how to do the many procedures necessary for effective psychotherapy, then to acquire experience in doing and evaluating psychotherapy, and maybe then to become a proficient psychotherapist. Many psychotherapists seem satisfied to practice after achieving some skill in one, two, three, or none of the necessary steps [as in the case of many GP’s, i.e., general (medical) practice physicians – I used to share office space with a couple of psychiatrists, and the bulk of their practice consisted of medicating patients whose crises had developed while receiving GP “psychotherapy.” RR]. The steps are: (1) personal socialization, then qualifying (2) in psychology, (3) in clinical psychology, (4) in learning, (5) in some psychotherapy methods, and finally (6) evaluating psychotherapy outcomes and (7) acquiring experience with a wide range of psychotherapy methods. No wonder psychotherapy is gaining so rapidly in disrepute.

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