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VERY BAD THERAPY

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what is very bad therapy?

 

This podcast gives voice to the stories that begin with an exasperated “You would not believe what happened with my therapist.” Weekly episodes will explore real-life stories of very bad therapy experiences as hosts Carrie and Ben, with a growth mindset, seek to learn from their diverse guests and experts in the field who can help shed light on how things could have gone better. Supported by scientific research and a mission to bring out the the best in psychotherapy through discussion of its worst moments, Very Bad Therapy is a corrective emotional experience for clinicians and clients alike.

 

 
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Ben Fineman is a marriage and family therapist trainee in Los Angeles, California. He spends much of his free time researching the mechanisms of psychotherapy, dabbling in philosophy, and enthusiastically sharing his findings with anyone willing to listen, regardless of whether or not they actually care.

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Carrie Wiita is also a marriage and family therapist trainee in Los Angeles, California. She does not have any free time, and her research interests include the professional development of therapists, postmodern approaches to psychotherapy, and the finer points of cheap wine.


EPISODE
22

A Clinic On Unprofessionalism (with Katie Vernoy, LMFT)

Professionalism in psychotherapy is often hard to define, but it probably doesn't include being twenty minutes late to a client's first session and sharing unwanted Bible passages. Katie Vernoy joins us in advance of the Therapy Reimagined Conference to share her knowledge and make sense of all the confusing therapist behavior we hear in today's interview with Ofra.

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Show Notes:


EPISODE
21

VBT in History (1920s): Very Bad Supervision

Dr. Ben "Manfred" Caldwell joins us in make-believe 1920s Berlin to discuss Max Eitingon and the surprising origins of psychotherapy supervision. We also explore examples of bad supervision, why contemporary supervision appears to have no impact on client outcomes, and what supervisors and supervisees can actually do to make our field better. This is episode three of twelve in our monthly series exploring very bad therapy through the decades.

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Show Notes:


Episode
20

When Therapists Need Therapy

Your therapist is having a bad day. Will this impact the quality of counseling? If you ask the therapist, probably not. But what does the research suggest about clients' perceptions of therapists who are riding the struggle bus? Today's guest Allison describes her increasingly bizarre experience with a clinician who wasn't quite able to bring her 'A' game to the counseling room.

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EPISODE
19

How Military Mental Health Care Works (with Julie Payne, LMFT)

Tricare is government managed health insurance given to United States military personnel and their dependents. It is also very confusing to understand, even for many of the providers themselves. As we learn from our guest Anna, this can lead to a frustrating search for helpful counseling. To make sense of the mystifying details of Anna's story - as well as all the acronyms - Julie Payne joins us to discuss everything you ever wanted to know about military mental health care.

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EPISODE
18

VBT in Focus: Dr. Scott Miller on Better Results

What is at the root of very bad therapy? The common feeling that something is lacking in the education, training, development, and services provided by psychotherapists is backed by a wealth of research supporting the notion that a paradigm shift is sorely needed. Dr. Scott Miller is leading this movement with his work in the areas of routine outcome monitoring and deliberate practice.

VBT in Focus is a series of sporadic episodes in which Carrie and Ben have the privilege of chatting with their favorite thinkers in the field of psychotherapy. Thank you for listening.

Show Notes:


EPISODE
17

The Thorny Terminator

What constitutes bad termination? In the words of Justice Potter Stewart, "I shall not today attempt to further define [it]... But I know it when I see it." In today's episode, R shares their story of termination that we can clearly know to be bad. But is it unethical? Ben and Carrie search for answers and discuss a pantheoretical framework for good termination. Thank you for listening. All reviews, ratings, Facebook likes, and feedback to soothe Ben's anxiety are greatly appreciated.

Show Notes:


EPISODE
16

VBT in History (1910s): Too Many Eugenicists

Lewis Terman was one of the most influential innovators in educational psychology and IQ testing. He also believed that segregating and sterilizing "feebleminded" individuals - as determined by a biased paradigm of general intelligence - was the necessary path toward a better society. This is the second installment in our monthly series on very bad therapy through the decades.

Show Notes:


EPISODE
15

Child’s play (with Megan Costello, LMFT)

Young children need play - not interrogation - to help them learn and form relationships. Today's guest PJ recalls his experience as an eight-year-old with a therapist who chose not to use play therapy in favor of a more investigative approach. Next, child therapy expert Megan Costello discusses the nuance of play therapy and what went wrong in PJ's story. And for some reason, we introduce our new sure-to-fail concept: The Richard Spencer Matrix for Therapists.

Show Notes:


EPISODE
14

Women Don’t Want to Work

In 2019, there somehow exists at least one psychotherapist who feels that it is helpful to tell a female client that her entire gender is biologically predisposed to prefer domestic life to a professional career. We cringe-laugh our way through an engaging interview with Aviva before diving into the research on societal biases, gender norms, and gender matching in the therapeutic relationship. Climate change is real.

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Episode
13

Cuddle Therapy

Imagine a spectrum of unethical therapist conduct. Far, far toward the most extreme end, just before sexual coercion, are activities like grooming behavior and inappropriate physical touch. Our guest Jessica shares her dread-inducing story of working with a therapist who abused his power in ways that mental health professionals should only experience when reading ethics textbooks.

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Episode
12

VBT in History (1900s): Some A+ Oppression Right There

Adolescent girls should be sent to the country to prepare for housewifery and motherhood. So writes G. Stanley Hall, first president of the American Psychological Association, in 1904. This is the first in a series of monthly episodes exploring very bad therapy in the decades preceding the stories of today. Floating uteruses not included.

Show Notes:


Episode
11

The Intake Process is a Mess (with Dr. Daryl Chow)

Gathering client information: good. Transcribing client responses into a computer while facing a wall: not good. It is estimated that 34% of clients don’t return after their first session, a strong indication that the traditional intake model is in need of repair. Dr. Daryl Chow joins us to discuss our guest Bryan’s bad intake experience, the importance of focusing intakes on giving rather than taking, and we explore how psychotherapists can achieve better outcomes over the long-term future.

Show Notes:


Episode
10

On Harm Reduction Therapy (with Lauren Cohn-Frankel, AMFT)

Today's episode is a deep dive into the nuances of harm reduction therapy. How does stigmatization, politicization, and cultural bias regarding substance use influence the way mental health professionals view and work with their clients? What happens when abstinence is not a client's preferred option? Also, Ben and Carrie say hello to Sweden!

Show Notes:


Episode
9

Empathy First, Paperwork Later

The quality of the therapeutic alliance is one of the largest predictors of successful therapy. What doesn't help with building rapport? 25 minutes of paperwork to begin every session. Today's guest Meredith shares her challenges in working with a therapist who failed to convey appropriate messages of empathy but felt very strongly about the positive impact of collecting sticks from the ground.

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Episode
8

Projections of Body Image Bias (with Rachel Coleman, LMFT, CEDS)

Societal messages around health, beauty, and body image can contribute to problems that lead individuals to seek out therapy. But what happens when the therapist herself is unaware of how these cultural influences impact how treatment is provided? Our guest Holly shares her story about working with a therapist who reinforced unhealthy disordered eating behaviors under the guise of helpful therapy.

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Episode
7

Boundaries and Institutional Power

Today's episode features a story about a therapist who pleaded with her client to help with research for her Master's thesis. We discuss why this is objectively problematic and look at the difference between boundary crossing and boundary violation in the context of inherent power dynamics within the therapeutic relationship. Plus, Carrie and Ben share their own absurd experiences of very bad therapy.

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Episode
6

Zimbabwean Granny Wisdom

In Zimbabwe, hastily trained "Grannies" were found to be significantly better at treating depression than the standard of care that best resembles Western psychotherapy. Ben and Carrie put on their researcher hats to explore how lessons from Friendship Benches in Africa reflect the need for a mental health paradigm shift around the world. Ben says thank you for taking care of his feelings.

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Episode
5

Please Don’t Tackle Your Clients (with Dr. Ben Caldwell)

Therapists are not supposed to tackle their clients*. But what are the ethical limitations in trying to prevent a potential suicide attempt? Today's guest Katherine recounts her experience with a caring clinician who went to extreme lengths to protect her safety, and Dr. Ben Caldwell shares his expertise to help us understand how therapists should manage delicate yet ambiguous situations with clients.

*Unless perhaps the client is attempting to physically harm someone else in the room. Perhaps.

Show Notes:



Episode
3

Black Clients/White Clinicians

Our guest Eric shares his story about being invalidated by a therapist who suggested that he get over racial discrimination with the help of medication. How can white therapists best work with racial and ethnic minority clients? How can Carrie and Ben tackle this subject as white people without reinforcing white supremacy?

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Episode
2

Doubting a Client’s Gayness

If a person claims to be gay, should you ever doubt them? Ben shares his story about winning $50 betting on his own sexual orientation, our guest Shaw tells us what it's like to debate your therapist about same-sex attraction not being a symptom of sexual assault, and we look at research that links sexual trauma to sexual identity.

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Episode
1

EMDR for Dummies (with Curt Widhalm, LMFT)

EMDR is a groundbreaking, controversial, and maybe not-that-special psychotherapy treatment. We explore the research on its mechanisms and effectiveness before hearing from our guest Justin about his EMDR experience with an overeager therapist. Then, Curt Widhalm, LMFT, EMDR certified, and cohost of The Modern Therapist's Survival Guide sits down with us to answer our questions about EMDR and highlight what went wrong in Justin's therapy.

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episode
0

An Ultra-Brief Intro

Carrie and Ben share why they decided to start a podcast about bad therapy. What can be learned from our guests' varied experiences in the counseling room? How will this podcast be helpful to listeners with an interest in therapy? These are conversations that are rarely held within the field of psychotherapy. Thank you for listening.

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