Clinical Social Work Journal

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 192–204 | Cite as

The Three Fallacies: Evaluating Three Problematic Trends in Clinical Practice

Original Paper


In an era of condensed treatment and managed care, three trends are gaining prevalence in some graduate training programs and in some circles of the practicing community, limiting clinicians from utilizing the therapeutic techniques needed to help a client achieve long-standing intrapsychic change, a precondition for maintaining therapeutic gains post treatment. The first trend, the equation of empathy with sympathy, hinders the therapeutic dyad from truly understanding a client’s internal experience and implicitly conveys the message that anxiety-provoking material is less welcome in the consulting room. The second trend, prizing cognition over affect, results in a primary focus on secondary thought process, discounting the affective experience that unconsciously steers behavior and thought. This trend is, in large part, due to the widespread dissemination of cognitive-behavioral therapy efficacy research and the belief by some individuals that psychodynamic forms of treatment lack empirical support. The last and most problematic trend, the rigid utilization of treatment manuals, tends to result in a reductionistic approach to treatment, limiting psychotherapy to a set of techniques while also overlooking salient aspects of treatment that can predict positive outcomes. Treatment manuals oversimplify the process of therapy; as a result, the therapeutic dyad is less likely to uncover and discover the multiple origins of one’s suffering, contributory factors that are not always readily available to conscious awareness. This paper discusses each trend and the therapeutic implications that result.


Technique Empathy Nonverbal communication Psychodynamic Treatment manual Affect 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Institute for Clinical Social WorkChicagoUSA

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