August 29, 2019

"Alternative treatments, rituals and metaphysical organizing principles... Astrology and tarot cards... Sound baths and other forms of 'energy medicine'" — all are finding their way into the realm of the clinical psychologist.

I'm reading "Now Therapists Have to Figure Out Astrology, Tarot and Psychedelics/Patients are confronting psychotherapists with a fresh pile of really useful challenges" (NYT).
“A lot of things in psychology were once considered edgy and alternative,” said Charlynn Ruan, a clinical psychologist and the founder of Thrive Psychology Group in California, who said she is learning about different alternative treatments and approaches. “I’m not teaching it, but I’m not saying you can’t bring this into the room. That would be disempowering and arrogant.”...

In Los Angeles — likely the wellness capital of the world — plant medicine, shamans, astrology, reiki and sound baths come up frequently in sessions. “In L.A., you’ve always said, ‘My therapist says’ — that’s not a weird thing to say,” said Kristie Holmes, a therapist with Thrive in Beverly Hills, Calif. “But now name-dropping a shaman is normal.”...

According to many therapists who spoke to The New York Times, the patients bringing up these approaches in general tend to skew female, younger and more affluent....
The young, well-off females of California — so important in our culture.
When these topics do emerge, mental health professionals often see them as ripe for exploration....
I assume anything the patient thinks or believes is "ripe for exploration" to a therapist. The question is whether science-based therapists are accepting astrology, tarot, and the like as alternative medicine. Are the therapists supporting and reinforcing pseudoscience? Where is the professionalism?
[W]hile the American Psychological Association doesn’t have an official stance on alternative practices, it maintains an evidence-based practice policy, said Lynn Bufka, the associate executive director for practice, research and policy at the organization.
Why don't they have an official stance? I note that this NYT article doesn't allow comments. I'd like to read what NYT readers — especially professionals in the field — think of supposedly professional therapists using utter junk in their practice.
In Chicago, Nicolle Osequeda, a therapist and the clinical director of Lincoln Park Therapy Group, said that some of her patients who have lost loved ones are seeking out mediums to feel a connection. She also hears from clients who have seen intuitive healers and done reiki. “I don’t find them to be competing things,” Ms. Osequeda said. “I do very different things than a reiki practitioner does.” In general, she supports the use of any safe methods that her patients find helpful....
Well, anything might be helpful. Flipping a coin. A Magic 8 Ball.
“There are times when there are feelings that come out of nowhere, and I don’t know how to describe them,” said Abby Mahler, a 25-year-old [patient] in Los Angeles. During those moments in therapy sessions, she has found herself talking about tarot, as well as internet memes, to communicate. Ms. Mahler said her therapists have realized that “when I bring up tarot or a meme, it’s because I don’t have the verbal ability to describe what I need to and this is just a tool to do it.”

Tiana Clark, a 35-year-old in Nashville, has gone to therapy on and off for the past two decades. She became interested in crystals, online tarot readings and astrology apps like Co-star this year, after experiencing burnout and extreme anxiety. “You’re breaking down your thought patterns and behavior patterns in therapy, and that’s kind of what you do in astrology,” she said. “If something seems applicable, like if I read something on Co-star, I feel comfortable peppering in those details as I’m walking through certain traumas.” In the future, Ms. Clark said she may not need a therapist who “understands the healing power of crystals.” But for now, it feels right.
Are therapists open to this nonsense lest the clients walk away?

68 comments:

Annie C. said...

Paging The Crack Emcee

rehajm said...

Confidentiality and all but we’re surrendering privacy everywhere now. It would be beneficial to society to have a list of these women we all could reference.

David Begley said...

Is this covered by insurance?

TheDopeFromHope said...

Did someone say "ripe for the pickin''"? And remember, these people are "pro-science." And also, this illustrates one of the biggest differences between men and women.

Ira said...

Are therapists open to this nonsense lest the clients walk away?

Bingo!!

rhhardin said...

``_I_ know astrology isn't a science,'' said Gail. ``Of course it isn't. It's just an arbitrary set of rules like chess or tennis or - what's that strange thing you British play?''

``Er, cricket? Self-loathing?''

``Parliamentary democracy. The rules just kind of got there. They don't make any kind of sense except in terms of themselves. But when you start to exercise those rules, all sorts of processes start to happen and you start to find out all sorts of stuff about people. In astrology the rules happen to be about stars and planets, but they could be about ducks and drakes for all the differnce it would make. It's just a way of thinking about a problem which lets the shape of that problem begin to emerge. The more rules, the tinier the rules, the more arbitrary they are, the better. It's like throwing a handful of fine graphite dust on a piece of paper to see where the hidden indentations are. It lets you see the words that were written on the piece of paper above it that's now been taken away and hidden. The graphite's not important. It's just the means of revealing their indentations. So you see, astrology's nothing to do with astronomy. It's just got to do with people thinking about people.

``So when you got so, I don't know, so emotionally focused on stars and planets this morning, I began to think, she's not angry about astrology, she really is angry and unhappy about actual stars and planets. People usually only get that unhappy and angry when they've lost something. That's all I could think and I couldn't make any more sense of it than that. So I came by to see if you were okay.''

Douglas Adams Mostly Harmless

Kevin said...

The young, well-off females of California — so important in our culture.

Talking with their Shaman about the patriarchy while sitting on a samosa chair, then analyzing how they felt at the time with their therapist.

alanc709 said...

Is astrology any more pseudoscience than believing in dozens of "genders"?

rhhardin said...

Astrology as a science has the advantage of measurements, orbits etc. So you get to wear lab coats.

It's like climate science. Lots of measurements, no theory.

rhhardin said...

``Astrology serves as a much better candidate for the Explanation of Thurber than psychology does. Thurber was born under the sign of Sagittarius, which rules, among other things, archery. The placement of the sun is what rules a man's health, so a man born with any afflictions to the sun in Sagittarius is going to be vulnerable to health problems associated with archery. I don't have an ephemeris handy for December 8, 1894, the date of his birth, but I bet there is either an affliction of the sun to Mercury, the planet of the eyes and of sense perception in general, or else an affliction from his sun to some planet in Gemini, Pisces, or Virgo. An affliction to Virgo, however, is made fairly unlikely by the enormous intellectual and domestic pleasure Thurber got from dogs - Virgo rules animal training. But Gemini rules dogs, so that lets Gemini as a source of affliction out. It was therefore probably an opposition to Mars in Pisces, which would also account for Thurber's excessive dreaminess and his problems with alcohol, as well as the tenderer and more romantic spheres of experience, as Pisces rules love and all other intoxicants. I would also expect to find Uranus, the planet of the inexplicable and especially the planet of misunderstood geniuses, in the constellation Scorpio, which rules erotic thought, since his brilliant visions of the wars and comedies of the sexes are so persistently misunderstood.

``So his life is explained, but his life is not what Thurber left behind for us, and it is too late for me to tell him that the placement of his sun in Sagittarius indicates that he ought to have come to terms with horses ...''

_Animal Happiness_, Vicki Hearne, p.110

MadisonMan said...

What a Lark!

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

Freud Jung

Psychology has ALWAYS been flaky.

Some Seppo said...

Just change the "N" in the above post's speech bubble to a "U" to illustrate this post.

tim in vermont said...

"Lots of measurements, no theory.”

Oh, there’s theory in climate science, and measurments too. It’s just that the two don’t connect with each other that often.

tim in vermont said...

I don’t see how Tarot Cards are worse than ink blots. As long as the therapist isn’t taking the fall of the cards as having any particular meaning and letting the patient use the cards to avoid whatever is the real problem that brought them to a therapist for too long.

Ralph L said...

Sounds like GooP to me.

My late step-monster, ironically an RN, tried all the other alternative treatments that claimed some basis in science and still managed to squander a boatload of money. As with Princess Died, I think it was borderline personality disorder, which I imagine is relatively common in Hollywood.

Mary Beth said...

The woo-woo is useful for letting you blame problems on fate or other external forces instead of taking responsibility for what you do and what you can change.

John henry said...

I was wondering about the male/female ratio of believers in astrology and ddg search led me to this:

i noticed that girls from certain star signs are more into anal sex than others ) ..i mean with INTO: they enjoy it !! it does not mean they ask for it..but more willing try & later enjoy it.. and many could get anal orgasm !

my experience was like this: (all about girls )

Aquarius: NOT into anal
Pisces: ----------?? 
Aries: NOT into anal
Taurus: very enjoy anal (orgasm)
Gemini: enjoy anal (orgasm)
Cancer: very enjoy anal (orgasm)
Leo: very enjoy anal (orgasm)
Virgo: NOT into anal
Libra: really enjoy anal (but no orgasm)
Scorpio: very enjoy anal (orgasm)
Sagittarius: very enjoy anal (orgasm) 
Capricorn ----------??

https://www.hipforums.com/forum/threads/astrology-and-anal-sex.350257/


John Henry

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Psychology isn't science. They all go together.

Has there ever been such a soft and pampered society frantically searching for strife and drama?

gilbar said...

The young, well-off females of California — so important in our culture.

The word you're looking for is: Influencer

Leslie Graves said...

I would like it if affluent young women who visit therapists adopted the strategy of regular visits to great state parks as an adjunct to their self-improvement regimes. That would lead to more interesting articles in the NYT.

Crimso said...

"Why don't they have an official stance?"

Do they have one regarding climate change?

Howard said...

Steve Jobs did not comment

tim in vermont said...

"it’s because I don’t have the verbal ability to describe what I need to and this is just a tool to do it.”

That’s a pretty bullet proof defense mechanism.

Jeff said...

John Henry for the win with a post I can get behind.

Ralph L said...

Regular exercise and actual responsibilities would solve many of their problems.

How long before California starts licensing the snake oilers?

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

Maybe crystals can align their chakras which have become unbalanced by the science denier in the White House.

MikeR said...

@John Henry - you need to know the sample size.

MikeR said...

"Maybe crystals can align their chakras which have become unbalanced by the science denier in the White House." :)

J. Farmer said...

In my professional experience, there are a lot of psychotherapists who are enthralled with a lot of wacky New Age thinking, particularly the subset of older divorcees who have decided to become therapists as a second career. These are the same kind therapists who tend to describe their modality or theoretical orientation as "eclectic," which my mentor would always deride as "believing whatever they heard at their last seminar."

Seeing Red said...

In Los Angeles — likely the wellness capital of the world —

And possibly one of the Poop Capitals of the USA.

Sebastian said...

"The young, well-off females of California"

Well, women are special. Young women are especially special. Cuz feminism.

"Are therapists open to this nonsense?"

Who are you to judge? Why do you denigrate the reality of women? Remember the sisterhood.

joshbraid said...

As a therapist I am sympathetic to therapists who attempt to join with their clients by entering their world and using their concepts in therapy. The problem, of course, is that many therapists are rent-a-friends and, so, swim in their clients' cesspools with them.

Look, being therapeutic is hard work and it is a lot easier to go with the flow. That is usually not helpful in the end even if it is profitable.

mikee said...

"Are therapists open to this nonsense lest the clients walk away?"

All this nonsense is about the Benjamins, Althouse. The therapists are not doling out this nonsense for free. They get paid quite a lot to do so.

tim in vermont said...

Therapy gets a bad rap because it’s hard and often fails. It works sometimes too.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

will we get a 'sound bath' instead of a SOTU address

from President Marrianne?

Maillard Reactionary said...

Well, all that stuff will fit right in because psychology is just pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo anyway. With the possible exception of cognitive behavioral therapy, sometimes.

The placebo effect is a powerful one. So much so that works on practitioners, as well as patients.

traditionalguy said...

Taboo subject. Popular Psychics and palm readers along with tens of thousand of years of the elites using augers and astrologers get their money because what they do works. Otherwise no repeat customers. This is what replaced Christianity among European atheists. Spirit cooking anyone?

The interesting question is how people can get back to Christianity once they have tasted the unclean spirits. Both are supernatural when you do them right.

Big Mike said...

Are therapists open to this nonsense lest the clients walk away?

Brown bears. Tall, green woods. Scat.

Michael K said...

Ever since "Recovered Memories" collapsed in the wake of the successful lawsuit by Gary Ramona, whose family turned against him by therapists and false memories, and the end of malpractice insurance, psychology has been looking for another "sure thing."

Before Ramona won his suit, Clinical Psychology was running classes in how to recover "memories" after McMartin preschool and the other insane scandals of the 80s. It all collapsed in one week.

The jury decided on a 10-2 vote that therapist Marche Isabella, Dr. Richard Rose, chief of psychiatry at Western Medical Center in Anaheim, and the hospital were negligent in their treatment of Holly Ramona, now 23. It awarded her father $500,000 in damages.

The case has received national attention because it marks the first time that a court has allowed a therapist to be sued for implanting false memories. It has been at the forefront of debate over recovered memory therapy, the most divisive issue to hit the mental health profession in decades.


The party was over.

Jupiter said...

You know how you get these e-mails, that say they are from the FBI, and you need to give them your address so they can send you $700 million that was found in an abandoned car in New Jersey? And you ask, "Can't they come up with anything more plausible than that? Who could possibly be stupid enough to fall for that?"

It turns out, that's intentional. They don't want to waste their time on anyone who is not extremely gullible.

daskol said...

My personal experience with MBTI and the useful insights it's provided me in terms of understanding and communication with others, as well as insights into my own cognitive preferences, has opened my mind. Party when I compare the insights I've gained reading Freud or Jung or Dabrowski vs. any insights derived from the more scientific and measurement focused Big 5 psych research. The latter is all measurement and no theory while the former has got theory for days but major measurement problems. I suspect that astrology and other alternative theories/methods can lead to significant insights in the manner so nicely explained in rhhardin's Douglas Adams quite above. As with scientific attempts in psychology and elsewhere, the skills and talents of the practitioner matter a great deal.

Jupiter said...

Some Seppo said...
"Just change the "N" in the above post's speech bubble to a "U" to illustrate this post."

And the "No!" to a "Yes!".

daskol said...

Notable Jew-resenter Kevin MacDonald had some insightful things to say about "rabbi style" science vs. mainstream Anglo science, as he characterizes it. Lots of charlatan rabbis, but also an occasional wise one.

daskol said...

There is a stereotype that many people drawn to study psych are pretty messed up themselves. Also that many clinical practitioners of psychology or psychiatry are pretty nuts themselves, and that this is reflected in their personal and family lives. In my own life, the most observant and psychologically insightful people I've met happen to be terrible at self-regulation and have very messy personal lives. The novelist/poet skill set and that of the intuitively insightful psych practitioner have major overlap, as do their foibles.

Francisco D said...

Is this covered by insurance?

No. It is the self-pay patients that therapists are eager to have because it is much more profitable than insurance.

This has nothing ro do with psychology although some of the practitioners may have nominal training.

daskol said...

Nearly all psychiatrists in the US are concentrated in our big cities.

daskol said...

Friend of mine who's pretty accomplished psychiatrist told me the only reasonable gig he could get outside NYC/LA/Chicago would be at university.

mockturtle said...

J. Farmer reports: In my professional experience, there are a lot of psychotherapists who are enthralled with a lot of wacky New Age thinking, particularly the subset of older divorcees who have decided to become therapists as a second career. These are the same kind therapists who tend to describe their modality or theoretical orientation as "eclectic," which my mentor would always deride as "believing whatever they heard at their last seminar."

On the West Coast there are more of these than you can shake a smudge stick at. I've known a few of them personally and one is still a [loosely defined] friend. While I believe that there are likely Clinical Psychologists who are competent practitioners, knowing these women has made me very cynical about the profession.

PM said...

If you like this sort of stuff, last week's NYer did an unintentionally funny piece on SV techies going to Esalen. Namaste.

mockturtle said...

Psychiatry, unlike psychology, involves a medical degree and is today largely concerned with treating mental illness through a pharmacological approach.

Fen said...

Want to make a million? Set up shop for Trumpian Psychonics:

"For the low price of $500 an hour you can lend your psychic energy to a group effort that WILL remove Trump from office."

Guaranteed or I will fly back from a non-extradition country to personally hand you a refund.

dgstock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

It's a Pro-Choice, Pro-Choice, Pro-Choice, Pro-Choice social construct.

Fernandinande said...

If you like your voodoo, you can keep your voodoo.

Marc said...

Here's a Moscow Times article about a Yakut shaman (a real one, too, not a Williamson or a Greta) who's doing real politics. Life is full of wonderful things.

Marc said...

Eugene has scores of therapists and pscyhologues who are down with crystals and stars and numerology and what not. I suspect all 'progressive communities' feature such professional resources.

Rosalyn C. said...

Hypnosis is a very powerful tool for transforming habits and beliefs about oneself, done at a subconscious level, and is often more effective than talk therapy and drugs. I'm surprised there wasn't more discussion about this development.

Regarding crystals, etc., I don't know if they really work, but people are not 100% rational beings and can hypnotize themselves into believing something is working for them. Just like some people are healed from illnesses even though they've been given a placebo. Because of this placebo effect, which has been studied and tested extensively, I wouldn't dismiss alternative modalities. Also, Jung dealt a lot with archetypes in the collective unconscious which are reflected in the Tarot symbols. Sometimes depersonalizing ones' experiences and challenges can be helpful in getting past them. Call it seeing the bigger picture. It's difficult to get past your past.

somewhy said...

I would be interested to get Jordan Peterson's take on this.

Anthony said...

Well, I dunno. Is sitting in a room quietly meditating on a chunk of quartz crystal that much different than sitting in a church quietly praying to a deity?

If it's something they can do outside of therapy (professional, good therapy) and it helps them cope, gives them solace, whatever, I say go for it.

SDaly said...

Placebos often work!

Michael K said...

Placebos often work!

In the days before H. pylori, placebos would heal 30% of peptic ulcers.l I was taught that in medical school.

The Placebo Effect was discovered by Henry K Beecher, who was studying war wounded in WWII. He found that those wounded in combat often had little if any pain for a long period after injury. He concluded that many were in such fear of death that the wound removed them from worse risk and was seen as a positive. Those injured in non-combat situations, like road accidents, behaved more like civilian injured.

n.n said...

Placebo effect, perhaps. There are pathological conditions that progress and diverge through mental dysfunction (e.g. stress).

church quietly praying to a deity

Christians are notable for observing a separation of logical domains.

That said, people have the right to define the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything... under the Twilight Amendment (an article of faith), and established Pro-Choice quasi-religion ("ethics").

mockturtle said...

He found that those wounded in combat often had little if any pain for a long period after injury.

Wouldn't that be the result of shock? I broke both legs as a passenger in an automobile accident when I was 19 and didn't have any pain at the time but I was apparently in shock and, as of course you know, the body sets forth mechanisms to deal with trauma.

Leora said...

Getting people to talk about their problems in productive ways is an art. It may involve using concepts that encourage the client to redirect their focus. A skilled therapist might use a crystal or a card deck to encourage a free flow of ideas and emotions in the same way they might use free association or relaxation exercises. My father's office at the mental health clinic where he worked was filled with things for the clients to talk about including a ouija board, a tarot deck and a crystal ball. He had books on phrenology and palmistry. He was much admired in his field and had many colleagues and clients who praised his work.

Michael K said...

Wouldn't that be the result of shock?

Yes but this is a longer time. He was interviewing soldiers after they had been evacuated to a hospital.

Ralph L said...

He concluded that many were in such fear of death that the wound removed them from worse risk

It's called the thousand yard steroid.

MB said...

The therapists practice this stuff themselves, but don't necessarily want everyone to know.