Interactions with your caregivers at the beginning stage of your relationship with them can affect your expectations from other people, changes your beliefs, and it also changes the way you respond to stress and your emotions as an adult.
In 2006, a group of researchers belonging to the city of Norwegian started doing research on how the psychotherapists changing the behavior of the people, and what tools they are using. A team of 50 therapist-patient pairs, and this experiment led by the Michael Ronnestad, Professor from the University of Oslo in the department of clinical psychology. The main objective of this team is to find out the therapist techniques and what they are doing to patients in order to regain their normal life. A post-doc at that time named Margrethe Halvorsen was assigned to perform an interview with the patients at the end of the treatment.
She was given the task to interview a patient named Cora – a woman with no children, unmarried, and in her late 40s. In her childhood, Cora (a fictitious name) was sexually abused by her mother and her mother’s friends. She has a habit of harming herself before taking this therapy. As she doesn’t have self-control in her own actions, she attempted suicide many times.
The way Cora described the cruel acts done to her by her mother and her mother’s friends and she conveyed the whole story in a steady voice, with clear eyes. It made the researcher feel like how can a person scarred could seem so alive, and undiminished.
The girl who is interviewing the patient asked Cora to describe her treatment in one word or image, and she said suddenly “It saved my life”, without even thinking for a second. In order to study her case deeply, and to know what had happened in the therapy room, she invited three fellow psychologists in order to uncover the truths behind Cora’s case.
While interviewing the Cora and her therapist, the team prepared a summary notes which consists of 242 pages over the course of the three-year study. Taking this data into consideration, the team prepared material of 500 pages of single-spaced text. Halvorsen studied this material for more than two years along with her colleagues in order to understand what had saved Cora’s life.
When you search deeply into the material, only one question came to your mind and i.e., how therapies can change the person’s mood and that will make your head swim. Here’s the Psychological process of changing one’s behavior that seems to work just like drugs. But the question remains as to how it will happen? Generally, in psychotherapy, two people present in the room, one is a therapist and the other one patient, they will talk for a set amount of time, every week, and finally, at some point of time the person suddenly behaves likes a normal person, loves enjoying other people company. How is it possible?
It will be difficult for you to understand the number of therapies. In Psychodynamic therapy, a therapist may ask you to feel more and when it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, they want you to think more and feel less. Some therapists remain silent during your therapy session and they won’t utter a single word because they let silence do their job. If you would like to know about all the psychotherapies, there are nearly more than 400 psychotherapies available today.
In order to understand how therapy works, I have spoken to lots of therapists from various schools. How these therapists are dealing with this problem is always remained an unanswered question. After that, I took this matter to the next level in order to understand the therapeutic efficacy and also included researchers and practitioners in my quest.
Reluctantly, I went back to read what Alan Kazdin a professor from yale university in the Departments of Psychology and child psychiatry, said in a widely cited paper in 2009: “ It is remarkable even after doing experiment for some time, we are unable to provide the evidence-based explanation on how these therapies working, and how it changes people behavior”. It is not an easy task to understand what’s happening between the client and therapist, by this we can conclude that a lot will happen more than talking and goes deeper than clinical treatment.
Researchers conducted a lot of experiments over the past few decades and the scientists came to a counterintuitive conclusion: that all the Psychotherapies produce the same results as other therapies. It is also called the “dodo bird verdict”. The basis for the Dodo bird Verdict is that no matter which therapy you are undergoing through, whether behavior therapy, psychodynamic therapy, cognitive therapy, or some other therapy produces the same result in order to help the person. No single therapy is better than other therapy. Researchers have taken a lot of things into consideration while coming to the conclusion.
In spite of the fact that this alleged equivalence among various therapies is a product of statistics and these therapies are designed to help all types of persons and not for specific individuals, nor you can randomly pick one therapy and get benefit from it. Some people respond well to one form of therapy and the other person get benefitted from another form of therapy. For instance, if you are suffering from a mental health condition, your physician suggested you opt for Cognitive behavioral therapy, and it works well for you and the same therapy may not show positive results to another person. It depends completely on the individual and the severity of their problem.
But the scientists don’t agree with this theory. And their question is why no single psychotherapy seems to provide unique advantages over any other therapies? The reason why therapies are successful because the therapist will try to understand their present condition of the body rather than looking for the mental problem you are suffering. They will try to calm you down when you are showing aggressive signs to them, and they will also help you in managing your daily stress and give tips to overcome them.
When the therapist started giving treatment to Cora, it was precise to the therapist that it will be a challenging case for him. Because, before giving treatment to her, the therapist came to know about the things that Cora did to herself. Her therapist clearly mentioned to the researchers that she tried to harm herself during the therapy sessions, but I had no choice except stopping her from threatening herself. I had to take a lot of risks while giving treatment to her. A question pops in the researcher’s mind that how did the therapist manage to pull Cora back from the brink?
While finding out some answers from the data that they had collected during the sessions, post-doc and her group found that there was an emotional connection between the Cora and the Therapist, and the Halvorsen and her team considered this relationship as the Mother-infant. After a few sessions with the therapist, Cora tried to Put herself down, and then the therapist tried to identify the negative emotions in her. Cora remembered her childhood as a bad memory and those memories grow along with her. She was unable to eradicate the bad memories and the therapist works hard to erase the bad memories. In this process, the bond between the Cora and her therapist converted into a human relationship from the Doctor and patient. As you know, people will get the desired results they want only when they trust doctors completely. Cora’s therapist wants her to forget the bad memories and if she doesn’t then he challenged her self-loathing by reframing what she saw as damning and unacceptable about herself into something human and understandable.
Cora frequently asked by her therapist to think of the “child on the staircase”, referring to a memory that Cora had shared in the beginning sessions. Even, it is not a good memory for Cora, actually what happened in the scene was, Cora filled her suitcase with her clothes and her mother told to leave the room, she doesn’t know where to go and was sitting outside on the staircase for many hours, and her mother came out and yelled at her. The therapist wants Cora to remember this scene over and over again, trying to evoke Cora’s self-compassion and counter her unrelenting self-criticism.
Allan Schore, a Psychologist from the University of California, Los Angeles, did a research from the viewpoint of neurobiology over the course of past 20 years, making small changes in therapy would not result in the intellectual communication between client and therapist but in a more detectable way – so, what Allan Schore is trying to convey the battle in the therapy session is not between the client and therapist but between two brains and two bodies.
If you observe a mother and an infant, they will communicate through gestures, vocal nuance, and touch. A mother will understand what his child wants through his baby nonverbal cues and reacts to it spontaneously. In the same way, the therapist also understands his client without a single word from her client. The main point here is if the therapist understands her client completely, then he will start behaving accordingly to that. Many problems will solve if you follow this pattern.
Gergely Csibra and Gyorgy Gergely professors from the Central European University in Budapest, in the Department of Cognitive Science proposed a theory in 2011. In order to find out the trustworthy sources of information, we depend on some visual and verbal cues or signals. Sensitive caregivers got the trust of babies as they teach them how to mingle with other people and also navigate them to the right path. Harvard University Conducted a study on securely attached children, they found interesting results. Children will listen to their mum as long as she is doing the right things but they will stop believing her if her statements run against reality.
Nervous people tend to behave in an abnormal manner and mislead themselves frequently. They always show signs of unsupportive or uninterested. People who are having the personality of avoidant people will always try to protect themselves, which will ultimately hold on to them to negative stereotypes and they will print a negative impression in the minds of others. For instance, Mikulincer’s research on married couples in the year 2003 revealed that the people who feel nervous all the time rated their spouses were objectively more supportive, and the people who belong to the category of avoidant people failed to notice good vibes in their spouses.
Cora believed that someone will come for her and this hope increases the severity of her disease. During her last therapy sessions, she believed that she had a friend she could count on, and also, she realized that she wasn’t alone. It doesn’t mean that the people she is trusting now were absent before, its just her condition which made her feel lonely. Cora therapy sessions successful only when she started believing in her therapist, then she started feeling good for herself and then in the goodwill of the world. Now, Cora is ready to live and face the world. She is no longer submissive to her mother and her mother’s friends. By erasing the negative thoughts in her mind, she is going to design a wonderful life for her. Halvorsen told me, “The main objective of the therapist who was treating Cora was to reduce her suicidal thoughts because thoughts will create an idea about how to attempt it properly and if she doesn’t have the thoughts regarding suicide then she will stop harming herself and that was the main motto of the Cora’s therapist and he did his job brilliantly.
During her last therapy session, Cora offered a gift to her therapist and it was a carabiner. It is used in the mountains by the climbers, and this carabiner helps the climbers in their dangerous situations.