Quantum physics feels paradoxical to us.
Is it a wave or a particle? Yes.
We’re accustomed to thinking paradoxes are uncommon. But they are not.
• The way out of a rip current is to go with the flow.
• The best way to sell someone is to stop trying to sell them.
• When your ski edges slip, lean downhill, not up.
• What you fear, you empower.
My brother in law Dick, a learned clinical psychologist, provides some paradoxical (or, at least, surprising) findings from the field of psychotherapy. I had asked him for insights about how people are influenced—here’s his (abridged) response:
Meta-analyses of hundreds of psychotherapy outcome studies provide strong evidence that, overall, it works – it’s better than no treatment or placebo. That was big (and encouraging) news when it was first published in my field in the mid-70’s after years of doubt …
The next question is—do some therapies work better than others?
The various therapeutic "schools" (Psychoanalytic, Gestalt, Jungian, Rogerian, Adlerian, Cognitive-Behavioral, Existential, Family Systems, and their myriad offspring) want to prove their "brand" works best. That interest was fueled by the insurance and managed care companies’ desire to apply the medical model to the delivery of psychological services—matching the right "treatment" to specific diagnoses.
Various types of psychotherapy have been compared to each other — and to controls—in an attempt to replicate the medical "clinical trials" method. The complication is consistency of treatment. In drug tests, a pill is a pill. But therapists’ “treatments,” however, are humanly applied and therefore vary infinitely.
Nonetheless, the research has resulted in one robust finding—the type of treatment doesn’t significantly create differences in outcome. Instead, ANY treatment seems better than none.
Can you say, “Hawthorne effect?”
Moreover, the strongest predictor of positive outcomes is—[CHG—hang on, wait for it]—the strength of the therapist-client "alliance"- i.e. the strength of the relationship… it is the therapist’s personality and their ability to make rapid strong connection with clients which is most predictive of success.
So—Cognitive Therapy, or Landmark? Yes.
There is some evidence that "allegiance" to one or another point of view correlates to positive outcome — i.e. strong belief in a school or model. That makes sense since that may play a part in projecting confidence and charisma. (That, by the way, has always been a challenge for me as a therapist since I am too philosophically inclined and broadly informed to be a true believer in any particular "brand" of therapy.)
(Dick and I both suffer from a predilection to subordinate belief to knowledge).
But back to Trust Matters.
One of this blog’s themes is that “business” is too often framed in terms like logical, deductive, behavioral, rational, self-serving, and trainable. Whereas people are often perverse, inductive, emotional, irrational (not the same as crazy), altruistic, and independent.
Result: loads of paradoxes.
What’s the best model for:
• Motivation—carrots or sticks? Caring.
• Alignment—systems or credos? Attention.
• Change management—people, or rewards? Relationships.
• Leadership—reflection or inspiration? Connection.
• Sales—SPIN or consultative? Trust.
Whether on the therapist’s couch or in the conference room, a lot of apparent choices are just that—apparent.
The real key to personal change—in business as in life—is a matter of personal connection. When we stand alone, we stay put. When we touch others, and allow them to touch us, all things become possible.
I like it when commonsense and science coincide.