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From the Therapy Soup Blog on PsychCentral.

com, new this week:


God in Therapy: Heresy! by Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC, and C.R. Zwolinski, A
uthors of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better and Move On (without Wasting
Time or Money); HCI; 2009
Heresy.
At dictionary.com* the first definition of heresy is: opinion or doctrine at var
iance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, esp. of a church or religious syst
em.
The fourth definition is listed as any belief or theory that is strongly at vari
ance with established beliefs, customs, etc., which is how people often use the
word.
In the case of heresy (though not with every dictionary listing), the primary de
finition is the original definition. The English word comes from a 12th century
Greek term meaning, “to choose”, but the concept is rooted much earlier, in the
Hebrew Bible. For many years the term was most closely associated with those who
opposed the Catholic Church’s doctrines.
Heresy doesn’t have a positive connotation, though oddly enough, its synonym, un
orthodoxy, often does—it is considered exciting to think outside the perceived m
ainstream and unorthodox is the preferred term.
Today, it can be considered heresy to hold a wide range of less-than-popular vie
wpoints about many non-religious subjects. For example, espousing the view that
sexual abstinence before marriage is a good thing; believing the scientists who
say we’re actually in a global cooling epoch; supporting nations that deny women
the vote; and so on, might elicit dirty looks and cries of “heresy,” depending
where you live and who you know.**
So what does this have to do with therapy? Well, in our first book, Therapy Revo
lution, we wrote that a competent therapist doesn’t believe that psychotherapy/p
sychology is not “an overarching, flawless religion.” Yet, as we get involved in
deeper conversations about therapy, it appears to us that there really are two
fiercely oppositional (even religious), camps when it comes to all matters psych
otherapeutic!
Here are some of the divides, as we see them:
Orthodox- Focused on the root causes and past
Heretical-Focused on behavior and future
Orthodox-Focused on self and relationship with self
Heretical-Focused on self’s place in the world and relationship with others
Orthodox-Identifies pleasure and fear as man’s driving forces
Heretical-Identifies search for meaning as man’s driving force
Orthodox-Focus Statement: We must get to the root of the problem, shattering all
belief constructs, even if it means digging for years.
Heretical-Focus Statement: We must move towards changing flawed beliefs and beha
viors, but nobody’s perfect, so moving quicker might be an option.
Addiction treatment also has some interesting contrasts.
It used to be that alcoholism and addiction was considered a moral failing. When
it was first labeled a disease, or brain disease, that was heresy. Now, there a
re some who consider it simply a moral failing once more. Which viewpoint is her
etical? (See our poll about this subject).
As for addiction treatment, some say it is impossible without 12-Step programs.
Others vehemently disagree, and say therapy is the answer. Others say medication
is the most effective treatment tool. Heresy!?!
We say to psychotherapists (and to patients/clients), “Therapists should use wha
t works with each individual, whether heretical or orthodox. You might only make
certain gains—nothing is perfect. Therapist should develop a thorough understa
nding and facility with the techniques they do use, but should try to be compreh
ensive. Be open to exploring complementary evidence-based techniques. And, if al
l else fails, the therapist’s mission is to help the patients get the help he or
she needs—they should refer out if a reasonable amount of time has gone by with
out substantial improvement. Remember—psychotherapy isn’t a religion and therapi
sts are not priests and change isn’t heresy.
*Heresy. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://di
ctionary.reference.com/browse/heresy (accessed: August 04, 2010).
**We chose these as examples because these are considered to be non-mainstream v
iewpoints in the media. Naturally, the converse of all these viewpoints may also
be considered heresy, depending on your circles.
See over 100 intruiging posts (and comments) about mental illness, addiction, ps
ychotherapy, and more at at http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup