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Fun psychoanalysis exercise: Analyse “Effectiveness—Approved”

If you are a psychoanalyst, here’s a fun, therapeutic exercise to keep your basic skills sharp: Apply your psychoanalytic skills to analyze a simple statement.

Where the statement came from: The statement was given to the public by the American Psychological Association (APA).

The statement: It’s a simple statement — about 2400 simple words long, clarified with an additional 4300 simple words of notes and references. The APA calls it “Resolution on the Recognition of Psychotherapy Effectiveness – Approved August 2012“. Here’s how it begins and ends;

INTRODUCTION: Council voted to adopt as APA policy the following Resolution on the Recognition of Psychotherapy Effectiveness:

WHEREAS: psychotherapy is rooted in and enhanced by a therapeutic alliance between therapist and client/patient that involves a bond between the psychologist and the client/patient as well as agreement about the goals and tasks of the treatment (Cuijpers, et al., 2008, Lambert, 2004; Karver, et al., 2006; Norcross, 2011; Shirk & Karver, 2003; Wampold, 2007);…

[The resolution continues with another 26 simple paragraphs, each of which starts with the word “Whereas”.]

[The resolution finishes (before it adds on that additional 4300 words) with a paragraph that begins: “THEREFORE: Be It Resolved that, as a healing practice and professional service, psychotherapy is effective and highly cost-effective….”]

The exercise: Use your psychoanalytic knowledge and skills to analyze what kind of person* made that statement. What kind of person* gives 27 different whereases before getting to the point? What kind of person* reaches a tidy, perfect conclusion after expressing all those 27 whereases? What kind of person does that kind of person* expect to agree with that simple conclusion with its 27 whereases?

Bonus exercise: What simple adjectives would you use to descrive the person* who made the simple statement?

* Okay, it’s not really a person. It’s a Council. But for purposes of this exercise, assume that that committee has a coherent, human-based personality.

(Thanks to investigator Mike Rapoli for bringing this to our attention.)

NOTE: Yes, we are aware that psychoanalysis and psychotherapy are not necessarily the same, and also that ‘analyse’ and ‘analyze’ are two different spellings. We are also aware that certain kinds of personalities write voluminous letters about such things (and particular kinds of personalities repeatedly write voluminous letters about such things), and others do not.

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