Magazine article Psychotherapy Networker

From the Editor: Clinician's Digest

Magazine article Psychotherapy Networker

From the Editor: Clinician's Digest

Article excerpt

From The Editor

September/October 2005

After the Networker switched to computer technology, it still took me years to get the hang of using a computer myself, even after spending much time sitting dumbly before a keyboard, being coached and coaxed along by my more digitally adept staff. Comfortable with the quaint, familiar editorial world of paper and pen, I regarded this new electronic encroachment into my life with the fear and loathing of a born technophobe.

My hunch is that most psychotherapists are also unreconstructed Luddites like me, ill at ease with the rising tide of technology that's increasingly taken us all hostage. Who among us hasn't sat swearing at the infuriating obstinacy of a balky computer (talk about resistance!) or spent frustrating, mind-twisting hours on the phone with an alleged humanoid at some distant "tech support" center? And why should we want to be techno-geeks, anyway? After all, we're humanists and healers, aren't we, not mechanics or chemists or electricians or cybertechnicians?

Well, this issue of the Networker is an alert from the new Oz: we're not in Kansas anymore. The breathtaking discoveries in brain science have brought whole new possibilities for high-tech clinical interventions, and whether we're ready or not, we're going  to be required to get up to speed on how to use them, or at least when to recommend them.

In this issue, we investigate two such technologies: neurofeedback, which uses EEG machines to help people control their own brain waves, and SPECT brain imaging, which uses Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography to evaluate emotional disorders and suggest possible treatment. Both require specialized training and the kind of familiarity with "hard" technology that seems completely foreign, even contrary, to the cozy gifts of empathy, insight, and sensitivity that are most therapists' stock in trade.

Does all this mean that what we understand by psychotherapy --primarily the art of forging transformative human connections with suffering people--will be extinct someday soon? Are we moving into a new mental health paradigm in which psychology as we know it will become merely an adjunct (and not a particularly important one) to neurophysiology? …

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