The New York Times published an article from Saïd Sayrafiezadadeh’s “Couch” series on Sunday titled “My Mother’s Psychotherapy—and Mine.” Sayrafiezadadeh said of his mother, “Her relationship with her treatment nearly killed her. How would I fare?”
The author recalls that when he expressed feelings of hopelessness regarding the alleviation of the unhappy memories, the therapist’s solution was to “keep coming and talking about it.” This intentional development of a dependent relationship between client and therapist is not only ineffective as a cure, it’s unethical.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) does not work for the treatment of PTSD or most Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) diagnoses. In fact, CBT makes people worse very quickly. Clients discuss what they experience and feel and are told to change their thinking via positive affirmations. They usually leave the therapy office raw, wide open with no resolution to the chaos and experience sleeplessness, flashbacks, anxiety and panic. If clients could change their negative thinking automatically, they would, but that is not the reality of what we know about the human brain. If trauma victims were able to independently shift their thought patterns, we as therapists could effectively send clients on their way with a CBT workbook and our work would be done.
However, there is an effective, science-based solution to the outdated and unethical practices that keep the client in a perpetual cycle of talk therapy. The application of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and Brainspotting cure PTSD and many other maladies far more quickly and efficiently than any talk therapy ever could.