In an astonishing podcast from The Radical Therapist, guest interviewee and longtime therapist Scott Miller, PhD explains his research into why more and more people are migrating from clinical psychotherapy to alternative sources of healing and compassion (such as psychics, mediums, and tarot readers). He admits that “despite what therapists believe, there is no evidence that the methods we [clinical therapists] use uniquely contribute to the outcomes we measure.”
In other words, superstitions and magical thinking are no different than “belief” in the effectiveness of modalities of psychotherapeutic schools. You can either believe that tarot readers and mediums work…or you can believe that clinical therapists work. But the basic mentality of “belief” in something that will fix the problem remains equivalent. Miller states unequivocally that he is first and foremost a scientist and researcher; however, he is a researcher and scientist who doesn’t think science is something to “believe in”…it’s simply a method of research. The fact that “scientific” clinical psychology has effective outcomes is no more relevant than the effective outcomes of clients of tarot readers or other magickal remedies.
Part of Miller’s research included meeting with and getting consultations from mediums, readers, and psychics. What was inspiring to hear was that Miller didn’t have a single disparaging thing to say about those practices, but rather was able to appreciate and admire them for their efficacy.
He recounts a separate example of a woman who saw several therapists because her daughter had passed away at a young age and she was obsessed with knowing that her daughter was “safe and okay.” The therapists all came at the problem as a need for the woman to process her grief. But not getting satisfaction from the therapists, the woman then went to a medium who not only told her that her daughter was safe and okay, but revealed that there were some older relatives present with the girl (her grandparents) and that they were taking care of her on the other side.
Whether or not a person believes in mediums who speak to dead people, the result was that the woman finally got the definitive answer to her concern. Knowing that her daughter was “okay” in the realm of the dead was the salve that allowed the woman to reach or broach her mental distress (concern for her child) and subsequently approach dealing with her own grieving…which had been the whole point of the clinical therapeutic approach.
This gets to the point of another statement that Miller interjects towards the end of the interview…that he is less interested in the “therapy” (as in therapeutic approach) than he is interested in the healing of clients. Um…wow. Imagine if all doctors and therapists could focus on that, instead of spending so much time on the clinical method they ought to employ. Currently, there is a secular application process when treating patients—by this I mean methods that are more politically correct within the scientific community—where therapists hear a patient’s issue and decide to apply a clinically-sanctioned methodology to it in order to solve it.
But this system often takes too narrow of a view of the scope of the healing process, and certainly doesn’t take into account the cultural diversity of a client’s background or experience. (Perhaps magickal readers and mediums are better at embracing a more holistic approach. Also, clients of readers and mediums tend primarily to search for culturally-relate-able readers with whom they believe they will be comfortable.) Further, Miller relates that clinical psychology tends to perpetuate the atomization of society, by separating people and essentially putting them in secluded rooms to contemplate things…when really socialization and interaction are much more healing modalities. (There really is something to the ‘third place” philosophy.)
For myself, I am inspired by Dr. Miller’s enthusiasm and open-mindedness from the clinical-scientific community. I would, however, suggest that there are additional causes for the decline in the use of psychotherapeutic professionals. One reason would be the health care industry itself… Healthcare providers (insurance companies) either don’t cover or limit funding for psychotherapy. Psychotherapy has been proven effective only when longer-term treatment is possible. By limiting coverage, insurance companies maroon patients before treatment has the chance or opportunity to be effective. Secondly, the pharmaceutical industry promotes quick results through chemical remedies—which is partly why the insurance agencies won’t cover longer-term psychotherapeutic office treatments. Until the healthcare system is overhauled and the paradigms of opportunistic-manipulative insurers and monopolistic pharmaceutical companies are eliminated, the psychotherapeutic community is waging a losing battle—and may never be able to find the magickal roots of its own healing potential.
The podcast is 45 minutes long, but it’s truly a fascinating and inspiring listen. You can hear the whole thing in the podcast embedded below: