Philosophical interest in what we now describe as psychology dates back thousands of years—the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Indians and Chinese all investigated the mind and studied human behavior. Over the centuries, ideas became more refined. By the 8th Century AD, Islamic physicians had constructed psychiatric hospitals and were assisting their patients with psychotherapy. Of course, the field really took off in the late 19th Century and here we are, another century later, doing our part to assist patients to reach their goals. We have tools, that our clinical forebears did not and we have access to technologies that they could only dream about.
So what does a psychotherapy practice look like today?
Well, to a large extent, a modern practice looks like it always has, it has the basics down: A practitioner who’s been trained, who knows their strengths and who can be authentic—sincere, present, real and responsive. This practitioner is comfortable with their own emotional experiences, including sadness, grief, anger, and so on, and is non-judgmental.
Now we add in the elements that make a practice ‘modern.’ A modern practitioner:
- Networks and has an online presence.
- Is comfortable with the technologies their patients are using and harnesses technology to keep up with social trends.
- Understand where some patients get social contact, such as ‘Second Life,’ social networks, etc.
- Follows on-going research that evaluates how technology is affecting us as a society (like research on human/technology interaction by Sherry Turkle, PhD at MIT).
- Is proficient enough in the use of technology to be able to help patients to integrate technology into their lives in a healthy and balanced way.
What does the future hold for psychotherapy? Technology is here to stay and the practitioner who grows with the times will be better able to serve patients with shifting needs. This could include needing additional flexibility when it comes to how and where sessions are conducted. Have you considered expanding your practice to include virtual therapy? That’s a topic near to my heart. If you follow this blog, you’ll learn more about it, or you could browse www.virtualtherapyconnect.com to see for yourself.
– Martha H. Ireland PhD, RN, CS, CEDS