Member Musings: Is Psychotherapy Out of Date?


Catherine Auman, LMFT
Supervisors SIG Chair, LA-CAMFT

He looked like Bradley Cooper but he didn’t have a job. At cocktail parties, I’m used to receiving a show stopper response when I reply that my profession is “therapist” or “shrink,” but this was a new one. “Psychotherapy,” he said. “That was cool in the ‘80s, right?”

It’s true that today’s mainstream culture encourages shallow pursuits. Eighty-one percent of today’s college students state that getting rich is their number one priority. The media attempts to continually brainwash us that physical appearance, possessions, and leisure are the most important things in life. Yet there’s also a 50-80 million person subculture evolving who state that their highest values include authenticity, helping others, being involved in creating a better way of life, and psychological and spiritual development. These longings may not be nurtured by the society at large, but they are timeless human ideals.

Certainly there are types of therapy that are out of date. You don’t see much demand for the nude encounter groups of the ‘80s any more (unfortunately?), or for meandering treatment that goes on for years and doesn’t produce any tangible results. I believe that therapy will move to the phone and Skype as people choose to work with therapists who don’t live in their town, although many feel that the in-person connection is all important.

Some think that psychotherapy might be out of date because of the plethora of self help information available on bookshelves and the Internet. All one needs to do is Google their symptoms to find advice on what to do. If that solves your problems, great – in fact, I often encourage people to do just that. Then again, this is often how people find out that they can’t do it by themselves. There is no replacement for building a relationship with someone who has had years of experience facilitating personal growth, who knows how the transformative process works, and who’s been there herself.

What “Bradley” was talking about was that back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the counter culture was very vocal about the benefits of working on oneself and experimented with various techniques to do so. Some of the charismatic therapists of the day achieved rock star status and people were not shy about saying they were their patients. Today, as then, it actually is very “cool” when someone becomes free from parental and mainstream programming as a result of therapy, when they individuate into their own unique true self, because each person who becomes free helps the whole planet evolve. Getting help from a skilled psychotherapist to become your best self is actually more relevant today than it ever was.

© 2014 Catherine Auman This article is an excerpt from Catherine’s book Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth


About Catherine Auman
Catherine Auman, LMFT is a licensed therapist with advanced training in both traditional and spiritual psychology with thirty years of successful professional experience helping thousands of clients. She has headed nationally-based psychiatric programs as well as worked through alternative methodologies based on ancient traditions and wisdom teachings. Visit her online at www.catherineauman.com.