English hypnotherapist and psychotherapist Tyrrell (co-author: The Giant Within: Maximize Your Self Esteem, 2002) discusses creative ways that therapists can help their patients.
The author focuses on a technique called “reframing,” in which a psychotherapist attempts to change a patient’s viewpoint on their own problem. Tyrrell asserts that when people are highly emotional—due to anxiety, fear, or depression—their ways of viewing their situations become severely limited. This “simplistic, polarised thinking,” he says, “makes it difficult, or even impossible, to see the wider picture.” He explains that sometimes the simple act of reframing clients’ problems can give them the impetus to find solutions. Having a good rapport with patients can be critical, he says, and he explains how to establish good connections with people without alienating them. For example, he notes that agreeing with a patient’s perception before reframing it may sometimes be the best path to take: “If a client declares, ‘I can’t go on living!’, the therapist can respond with, ‘Of course you can’t go on living the way you’ve been living your life until now. We need to look at making changes.’ ” Tyrrell shows how to use analogies or metaphors to change a patient’s perspective on a situation. To help a patient deal with panic attacks, he says, a therapist can compare the attacks to a faulty car alarm; although this alarm is oversensitive and needs to be readjusted, the patient may start to view attacks as a “useful response” rather than an illness. From there, a therapist can discuss tweaking the alarm to make it less sensitive. Tyrrell includes more than 50 brief, anonymous cases to illustrate various reframing techniques. They cover a wide variety of afflictions and conditions and are sometimes touching and humorous. The author is such a skillful writer and creative thinker that readers may be left wanting more expansive vignettes. Although this book is intended for therapists’ use, it may well provide guidance and hope to laypeople as well. However, the author is careful to note that his examples don’t represent the only possible approaches and aren’t one-size-fits-all techniques.
An enlightening, insightful, hopeful, and entertaining therapy guide.