Academic journal article Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry

Compassionate Confrontation Psychotherapy: An Effective and Humanistic Alternative to Biological Psychiatry for Adolescents in Crisis

Academic journal article Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry

Compassionate Confrontation Psychotherapy: An Effective and Humanistic Alternative to Biological Psychiatry for Adolescents in Crisis

Article excerpt

Compassionate confrontation psychotherapy (CCP) is effective for gifted students who act out in dangerous ways. In comparison to other group psychotherapy orientations, compassionate confrontation can initially appear radical and harsh, and needs to be used judiciously and within careful parameters. For a quarter of a century, The John Dewey Academy (JDA), a residential college preparatory therapeutic high school, has sent all (100%) of its graduates to colleges of quality. Most JDA students arrive having, at best, mediocre cumulative averages and often have several C's, D's, and F's, which is the least serious self-destructive act but one that is impossible to hide from college admissions personnel. Ironically, if one is dishonest, it is easy to conceal addiction to potent psychotropic medications, alcoholism, institutionalizations, incarcerations, and abortions. Students are admitted based on potential and attitude, rather than academic performance or standardized testing (both of which conceal innate intellectual potential).

Keywords: gifted; alienated; unconvinced; self-destructive adolescents

Traditional psychotherapeutic orientations have failed to pierce the impenetrable distortions and denials that make gifted, alienated, and defiant adolescents immune. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) labeled this phenomenon as "stinking thinking." While rejecting confrontation, AA promotes "unconditional positive regard." I believe, however, the sponsor, a recovering alcoholic who is a responsible role model and proof of the viability of abstinence, contributes more to success than any other component of the AA program. Confrontation is in fact an integral part of the sponsor-sponsee relationship.

I founded The John Dewey Academy (JDA) to prove to psychotherapists that most approaches to treating troubled teens are ineffective because recidivism rates confirm that traditional therapeutic interventions fail. Knowing this reality, it is incomprehensible why traditional treatment orientations continue. In addition, this article rejects with much conviction the unethical trend to medicate adolescents because no reputable study exists to prove psychotropic poison is either effective or safe with children and adolescents. Having used compassionate confrontation psychotherapy (CCP) in diverse community and residential settings, anecdotal outcomes are sufficiently impressive to warrant research because compassionate confrontation produces an extremely high percentage of successes based on quantifiable results such as the reputations of colleges for quality which admit JDA graduates and their academic performance at those colleges.


There can be debate about goals of psychotherapy: growth/change, adjusting to the status quo, understanding feelings, and making conscious the unconscious. For gifted adolescents engaging in dangerous and potentially annihilative behaviors, however, there is only one goal: survival.

Symonds (1974), a most respected psychoanalyst, described a humorous, but clinically valid, example where immediate limit setting enhanced the helping relationship between an "action-oriented twelve year old, which exhibited reflexive behavior" and a worker.

A new worker was placed in charge of the cottage where Charles lived. He met her and asked, "Did they tell you about me?" She said, "No." And he repeated, "Didn't they tell you about me?" She said again, "No." Charles then asked, "Didn't they tell you that I throw chairs at workers when I don't get my way?" She said, "No," and continued, "Did they tell you about me?" Charles said "No." She then said, "Didn't they tell you about me?" Charles, sounding puzzled, said, "No." The worker then said, "Didn't they tell you I would break you mother fucking head if you threw a chair at me!" (p. 365)

Symonds reported that Charles confided to him that the worker "is the only one I can trust and talk to. …

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