As discussed last time, I provide Chris Therapy. Chris Therapy is unique, but it does involve the use of various well known models of therapy. Some therapists announce: “I’m a CBT therapist!” or “I’m a Trauma-Informed therapist!” I downplay the types of therapy I use, because while models are important, they’re not that important.
Not everyone will agree with me on this. That’s OK. I’ll plunge ahead anyway, and try to explain by drawing parallels with other kinds of professional activity. How about music… and martial arts?
Therapy Is Like Playing Music
I think there are many parallels between playing music and doing therapy. I’ve blogged about this before, in terms of listening. Today I’ll look at another similarity.
What kind of music is “the best”? Fans of each genre of music will argue passionately for their own; whether classical, country, jazz, R&B, or punk. This is terribly subjective. If you can prove that one kind of music is “the best” — in a way which convinces everyone across the globe — please let me know.
As a long-term fan of heavy metal, I’m used to people crinkling their face in disgust when they hear the music I love best. My father and I engaged in many enjoyable battles over the virtues of metal vs. classical music. Neither of us ever won.
Music Doesn’t Play the Musician
Seems a bit obvious, but a particular type of music does not turn every player into a virtuoso. There are excellent musicians to be found playing any kind of music. There are also mediocre — even incompetent — musicians playing the same genres.
Just so with therapy. There are amazing, and not-so-amazing therapists practicing any of the multitude of models out there.
That is an uncomfortable topic. I strongly suspect it is one of the main reasons models get so much attention. It is far less threatening to focus on the performance of models rather than therapists. As a therapist, I’d much rather think I’m practicing an inferior model of therapy than consider the possibility that my actual performance is poor.
Therapy is Also (Somewhat) Like Martial Arts
I’m reasonably sure that my blog is the only one out there to compare psychotherapy to MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). But it’s a big world, you never know…
Ah, MMA. A guilty pleasure of mine. I try to justify it by saying it’s about skill and challenge, and good sportsmanship. Honest, these things are all true!
In any case, a young Brazilian took the fighting world by storm in the early 90s, winning the first two Ultimate Fighting Championships in a row. At 180 pounds, he was tiny compared to some of the monsters he fought (there were no weight classes at the time). Massive opponents using all kinds of fighting styles went down to Royce Gracie.
Gracie practiced a fighting model called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, developed by his family. In the wake of his success, BJJ became the rage.
The assumption was that he won because he practiced the greatest model of fighting ever known.
Well… that assumption has not stood the test of time. Gracie himself has been beaten many times over the years, by people practicing many different models of fighting. BJJ fighters have not consistently dominated the ring.
I’m Not (Totally) Anti-Model
On the other hand, BJJ is not considered useless or second-rate. Many MMA fighters train BJJ at least to some extent. While it’s not the one and only, it is darn good.
Fact is, there are great martial artists who use BJJ, and great martial artists who don’t. There are great martial artists who practice one particular model of fighting; and great martial artists who blend many models of fighting.
I do not think there are any great martial artists who practice no fighting model.
Nor do I think there are any great musicians — or therapists — who do not practice at least one style or model.
As much as I want to be anti-model (just to protest the ridiculous over-emphasis on models in therapy) that would be foolish. Models are not completely irrelevant. They are just far less important than the practitioner of the model(s).
Practice Beats Models
If you look at the paragraphs above, the word “practice” has been used many, many times.
Practice is more important than models. That’s a topic I will write about repeatedly in the future. For now, the bottom line is this: when I say the therapist is more important than the model, I mean the quality of practice which the therapist engages in.
OK, enough blogging. I gotta go practice some drills!