Movie Shows Successful Therapy Requires Patience

Article excerpt

Byline: Ken Potts

Healing takes time. And often, healing emotional and spiritual wounds takes more time than healing those that involve other parts of who we are.

"Good Will Hunting," a current movie favorite, makes this point.

Will, an off-the-charts genius, also has been emotionally and spiritually damaged by life. Orphaned, abused by a foster father and callused by the rough South Bronx neighborhood in which he lives, Will's genius is expressed through angry defiance and random violence.

A court-mandated therapist, played by Robin Williams, senses the emotional and spiritual damage beneath Will's tough exterior and patiently waits while Will develops sufficient trust to allow him to help.

And it takes time. The movie is not clear how long, but we are left with the impression of months, perhaps a year or more, of work.

Today's managed care-dominated insurance system has contributed a great deal toward controlling the overuse and abuse of some mental-health services.

Troubled teens are no longer simply confined to psychiatric hospitals. Therapy is not necessarily expected to last for years if not decades. Substance-abuse problems are no longer automatically treated by months of hospitalization.

Refashioned as behavioral health, these services are now short-term and limited in focus. Emphasis is on the biochemical (our body chemistry), cognitive (our thinking) and behavioral (our actions) aspects of personal and interpersonal problems. …