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Psychoterapies, Orientations and School: Science misconception and chaos in the psychoterapies craft

Volume chapter author (s): Imbasciati, A., Cristini C., Dabrassi F., Buizza C.

Today an increasing number of people feel psychic discomfort, generally labelled as stress, and they therefore say: “I may need psychotherapy.” But there is much hesitation between such a statement and its realization. Many other people don’t even feel the need for it, crushed by the fast pace of contemporary society, while, as a result of the social situation, they would actually have a great need for it. The first hesitation is due to ignorance, or rather to the misconception of what is meant by “psychotherapy”. Psychotherapy is considered as singular, also in the health field and in educated circles, even though many different kinds of psychotherapy exist. This myriad of variations results in a chaotic panorama. Furthermore, medical categories of normality/pathology or diagnosis/correct-therapy are applied. They are entirely misleading when we shift from a biological to a psychic dimension. It is thought that the therapist “imposes a treatment” on the patient like the physician, but the patient himself is really the first, active protagonist of what he wishes. Psychotherapy is thus viewed as fixing something broken, rather than helping a Person develop as to become able to live better.
Even the Italian legislation contributes to this chaos: a specific specialization with subsequent registration on its specific professional Roll is required to practice psychotherapy. But our legislation is insufficient and ambiguous: training is not effective, as far as University Specialization Schools are concerned, and entirely inadequate in regulating the “recognized” private post-doc Schools. The psychotherapist licence is generously granted by the Italian State and doesn’t protect the patient, without even requiring the practitioner to clarify what kind of psychotherapy he/she practices. Moreover, the application of this already insufficient legislation in the Health Services is lacking or often non existent. The already inexperienced patient is entirely disorientated. In this chaos, where competent psychotherapists also exist, a continuum between them and the charlatans is created; both are equallly recognized and qualified by the Italian State. Good and even excellent “craft professionals” exist –as emphasised in the subtitle– but in a crowd of fanciful psychotherapists who possess just a diploma and usually promise short-term therapy, alluring and attracting inexperienced potential patients and contributing to the increasingly current stereotypes that psychotherapies are all useless chatters and that “shrinks” are “simpleton-catchers.”
In such a picture the client who wisely looks for a competent psychotherapist, if he succeeds in finding him/her, will have to reorganise a current stereotype: a real psychotherapy indeed requires years of intense engagement. A few months are not enough “to repair” a personality that has been structured in thirty or more years; even less so will a few magic sessions do. With this unpleasant surprise, it happens that the shortage of facilities and the entity of the cost of a psychotherapeutic treatment contribute to discourage those who are willing to embark on this venture. Then, there is still the possibility to turn to medications, even though things will get worse in time; or else people become workaholic –as long as they can bear it; for some the solution is drug-addiction, sometimes a heavy fun. Basically, people look for some psychic retreat that implies “not thinking”.
The present book describes a fuzzy picture, points out the differences between psychotherapies and those among different approaches, warns against easy promises, debunks such illusions, reports the dangers of giving up for the person that with “patience” –in Italian “patience” and “patient” derive from the same Latin verb patior = to suffer– starts to look for a suitable therapist and firmly commits himself to the long enterprise of self-restructuring.
The book gathers several contributions from different authors: the editor is Antonio Imbasciati, psychoanalyst and psychotherapist, who has written the largest part of it and has coordinated and linked the other contributions.