Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Really Helps People Change?

 Bush Listens to Two People in Conflict

In my last post I discussed research comparing different approaches to Helping. (Coaching, Counseling, Therapy, Psychiatry, Ministry, Pastoral Care, and do forth are all called Helping.) In that post I said that there is not much difference between one theory and another. Despite the marketing from various people who tout their approach, when it comes down to it, their supposedly superior methods do not necessarily produce superior results for the Client, Patient, Student, etc.

For example, a lot is said about the superior performance of anti-depressant medications.  Drug company X goes on TV and says "My drug is effective at reducing depression. In fact, it is better than another intervention that we tried in our studies.

What they do not tell us is how many studies they had to do to find one or two that worked for the depressed people. In some studies they had to try multiple times before they got a better result from using the medication than they did without it.

In many cases the Placebo Effect was as powerful as the Medication Effect. In other words, just taking a sugar pill with no active ingredient was as effective at reducing the symptoms of depression as the drug with an active ingredient.  Take a look at the active ingredient in a dandruff shampoo. In many of them the active ingredient is Coal Tar. The amount of Coal Tar is very, very small.

Over 90% is stuff that smells good and conditions the hair. If a person with dandruff used only the conditioner without the active ingredient but firmly BELIEVED it had the active ingredient, their dandruff would disappear as much as if they actually used the Coal Tar.

The antidepressant drug trials just gave the patients some stuff that looked like it had an active ingredient but did not. In many cases, the patient's symptoms were reduced as much with the fake pill as much they did with the real pill. Scientifically speaking, BELIEF that the medicine was real was as important as the REAL MEDICINE.

Having said this, Helping/Counseling/Coaching tends to be effective. Talking with a caring person who listens, shows us respect and insight tends to reduce the symptoms of depression, anxiety, bi- polar disorder, anger, and so forth with and without medication. Sometimes medication is very, very good at relieving anxiety and depression, but almost always when it is accompanied by Talking with a Counselor.

If you need assistance, find a good listener who shows you respect, concern, understanding and love. At Life Way Counseling, we offer great Counseling and medication when needed.

If you want to improve your own ability to Help others, take one of our classes in listening or Download my book, Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty.

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