If you want to stump many therapists, ask them to explain their theoretical orientation without putting down some other theoretical orientation. Nearly every theorist since Freud has constructed an image of a bearded authoritarian with a Viennese accent pontificating about the patient’s psyche that the new theorist decidedly is not. Perhaps this straw man once actually existed in the flesh, but it’s not possible that he was as ubiquitous as other theorists make him out to be.

Beck claims that there is an interesting cognitive behavioral (CBT) phenomenon that occurs when therapists have erroneous beliefs about their clients or apply mistaken schemas, and the name he came up with for this phenomenon is “countertransference.” He claimed at a conference that this has nothing to do with the psychoanalytic concept of countertransference, even though it means exactly the same thing (using a different vocabulary, beliefs versus relational paradigms).

Behaviorism’s Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP) looks exactly how psychoanalysis looked in 1970. Their insistence that there is nothing to learn from psychoanalysts means that they have to discover for themselves such fascinating developments as self-objects and intersubjectivity. My guess is that once they do they won’t name them self-objects and intersubjectivity, but it’s not out of the question as long as the terms are pronounced with a behavioristic accent (if you will). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and FAP practitioners, I once wrote, are like Columbus, claiming to have discovered, for example, fusion—concrete equation of a thing and its name—as if no one had gotten their first. With Columbus, it was Native Americans; with fusion, it was Russell and Whitehead’s logical typing errors and Whitehead’s fallacy of misplaced concreteness. With FAP’s clinically relevant behaviors (CRB’s), it was good old transference.

It took systemically-oriented family therapists a long time to realize that some people are operating in hidden or remote systems, and that the reactions of colleagues or current family members are not relevant to the immediate system. In other words, they were so bent on not being psychoanalytic that they refused to consider personality as a variable. Psychoanalysts were so certain that behavior modification was too simple and that CBT was too naïve that they refused to solve problems. When I supervised a psychodynamic clinic, I always worried that someone would knock on our door one day, ask for directions to the post office, and be put into open-ended therapy until they could find their inner post office.


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