Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Research Project

Is Therapy My Enemy?
            Therapy? Everyone goes through tough, emotional times throughout their life, and each person deals with each of their tragedies in a different manner. One of the most common ways in which people in our current society deal with their emotions is with a therapist. Psychotherapy, the treatment of mental disorder by psychological rather than medical means, is a more specific therapy in which people engage themselves in, yet this is just one therapy. There are others such as cognitive therapy, family therapy, hypnotherapy, and many more that help people all around the world. Although many people use therapy as a way to get through their most challenging of times, you have to be wondering, “Does it really work?”
            As you can expect, therapy, like most things, comes with pros and cons. There are many pros to therapeutic treatments. As you may know, many people in modern times suffer from depression and stress. One way they relieve themselves from those burdens, is with therapy. There are many ways that receiving this treatment would be a positive thing for people, but many do not believe so. It is up to oneself whether or not they want to go down the therapy road, but it will most often be a positive outcome for them and their friends and family who surround them.   
            Therapy is a very sensitive process which is sought by many people. Although you may think otherwise, there are many reasons that people receive, or want to receive, therapeutic treatments. Sometimes, “talking about our feelings or putting them into words by way of writing predicts better adjustment.”(Pennebaker 2) People often go through extremely traumatic events, which is why many people receive therapy. Others are forced by loved ones to do therapy in order to fix a relationship between themselves and someone else. Therapy is a major way to get over something that people can’t handle themselves, which is why therapy is such a popular thing.
            How can you find a therapist? There are many ways that you can find a good therapist for your own needs. On the internet there are always good therapists for everyone. Another common way people find their therapists is through word of mouth, many people get their therapists through their friend’s and family’s recommendations. Yet the most common way people find their therapists, is through their doctors. Doctors often know the best therapist for you.  A lot of time, “therapy is a great option for some people. If you find yourself feeling depressed, not like yourself, or simply in need of advice or an open ear, and are lost as to what to do or where to go for help, then I suggest you give therapy a try.”(Kalish 1) So, therapy is an amazing thing for some people, but you have to be the right type of person, with the right kind of therapist.
            I’m sure you are wondering if therapy actually has positive results and unfortunately, the answer is very vague. Sometimes the answer is yes, it worked out great and sometimes the answer is no, it didn’t help at all. When the results are positive, great improvement is shown and therapy appears to be the most affective thing out there. Studies show that, “emotional experiences were shared in about 90% of the cases.  The modal pattern was for the social sharing of an emotion to be initiated early after the episode. It occurred during the same day as the episode in about 60% of the cases.”(Pennebaker 4) Many times when people express their emotions closer to their traumatic event, its affects are much more effective, than when it is waited out for a period of time before they’re expressed; doing this, makes therapy extremely effective. Another way therapy can become more efficient is with patient involvement. A lot of time, “patient involvement in psychotherapy has been found to be a particularly powerful variable in relation to subsequent improvement.”(Lafferty 9) If a patient wants help, they have to be consistent and committed to getting themselves better because it doesn’t work unless both parties are willing to do anything that they can. This is why a “therapist's level of emotional stability can be positively related to various process and outcome criteria.”(Lafferty 7) If all of these aspects are good, then the outcome of therapy will be ideal but if not, therapy could be a waste of your time.
            Therapy is a wonderful thing for many people and it can help you get through the toughest of times in your life, but it’s not for everyone. Research shows that there are positive outcomes at termination and follow-ups of treatment. (Perry 1318) If you give therapy a try, it may help you greatly. You just have to be willing to change, and be willing to be fully committed to getting better. There are many ways you can find a good, reliable therapist to help you. If you need help from a therapist, I recommend giving it a try. It could be the best thing you have ever done.
            In addition to all of the benefits people get from therapy, there are also many difficulties that could possibly come with receiving therapy. There are many ways that therapy could go wrong, even though it may not be as common as the positive effects of therapy. You don’t have to be special to have a good outcome in therapy, but you have to want to get better, you have to want to move on with your life, and if you don’t or if you’re not fully engaged in your treatment, then it could go wrong.
As explained before, you have to have a specific personality for therapy to work, it cannot always work. It has to be the right person and even the right therapist. Some things may work for some people, and not work for others; “In our next meeting, I commented on the happy coincidence of our sharing the same birthday. Dr. C tried to explore what this meant to me but I was unable to say anything beyond the fact that it made me feel good…Many years after this incident I was in a session with a fairly new patient. To my surprise she announced that it was her birthday and I impulsively revealed that coincidentally it was mine too. The patient became very angry and bitterly accused me of trying to take away her specialness.” (Goldstein 418) This shows, perfectly, how something can work for some people, but it could be the worst thing possible for someone else.  
There is an ideal personality for someone who is seeking therapeutic help. You do not have to be the perfect person, you do not have to be the kindest, or even the most cooperative person. What you do need is the willingness to admit that you have a problem, and that you need help. You also need to have the uncanny, unrestricted desire to change. You have to want to be better. In order for someone to have the greatest success, they have to be strong, courageous, and unique. The cold hard truth is, sadly not everyone has those qualities.
Some examples of personalities that are not what you need for success in therapy can be explained here. Someone who believes that they are superior to others. Just because someone has a mortifying amount of hubris doesn’t mean that they can’t be depressed. The only difference would be that, they wouldn’t get better until they changed their personality. Another common personality in people that need therapy but can’t get better because of their personality is, those people who constantly feel too sorry for themselves. It’s okay to feel upset or lonely, but if you don’t have the belief or courage to get better and you just sit there feeling sorry for yourself then therapy could never help you. Although people with these personalities can’t help themselves or be helped by others, they can once they fix their personalities.
There are many different ways that therapy can go wrong. Sometimes, when there is no one else besides your therapist, it can be hard not to get attached to them. In many instances, people have become emotionally enthralled in their therapist and too attached. This causes people to change the way they confide in their therapist. People start caring about what their therapist will think of them, and they start lying about their problems, which puts their entire treatment somewhere else, below their obsession with their therapist. When you are telling your therapist everything and, “giving him all this information, complaining, venting, and crying in front of him, and he is trained to be understanding and gentle and non-judgmental. How can we not feel close to this man?”(Kalish 1) It is an understandable problem, but it can be the worst thing for someone trying to receive treatment. Also, “A very widespread belief exists according to which sharing an emotion is helpful for people's well-being and health and that it should bring emotional relief. Lay people believe less in the beneficial interpersonal effects of communication of emotion. They do not endorse the view that communicating emotions has detrimental effects.”(Zech 10) It is also a very likely possibility that talking about ones feelings could be hurtful to their emotions. It can create even more problems for them. You have to have the right person, the right therapist, and the perfect timing, otherwise things could go horribly wrong and be immensely detrimental to oneself.
There is one simple reason that there is a possibility of therapy going wrong, and I have said it a thousand times. If you are not willing to change, and if you are delusional and in denial, then therapy cannot work for you. You have to be committed and open to suggestion or criticism. Therapy is not for everyone, but it can be.
If you or anyone else believes that they are in need of therapy, then it is possible for them. If you are able to forget about your dignity and your undeniable confidence for one moment, then you can benefit from therapy. If not, then you may be hopeless, but remember that is only until you realize that you need to change. Anyone who truly wants to change, can, and will. It is not up to anyone but themselves. Therapy is just a resource, you have to do most of it on your own, a therapist is just there to guide you.   
            In therapy, there are different influences and ways to help people other than just talking and sharing their emotions verbally. There are different types of people, some like visual things better and some just like verbal interaction better. There are also therapeutic treatments that just allow you to do things that you enjoy, or things that help you push through your emotions. (Like when people have stress balls) Therapy can be benefited greatly by these alternative ways of helping people.
            An example of an alternative way of therapy is with video games. Many therapists use things that help people get rid of their anger, and some use video games. Video games can help adolescents rid their anger and resentment. (Ceranoglu 143) Another example is when a, “therapist played a direct, yet less active role in the therapeutic process by remaining in the background to observe the play and provide feedback or guidance as appropriate.” (Ceranoglu 142) This is showing a type of therapy, where the therapist leaves his client alone, for most of the time, in order to investigate the client’s mannerisms and emotional stability. This helps the therapist get to know what and who they are working with.
            Two other types of therapy can include direct and indirect therapy. These are two different, yet affective ways to try and help, or fix, one’s emotions. Although therapy is believed to be one thing, and one thing only, therapy is different things, with the same goals. Indirect therapy is when a therapist will attempt to interact as few times as possible. The idea of this type of therapy is that, the client will learn how to help themselves, but if necessary a therapist will intervene and guide his or her client. Indirect therapy is effective due to its self-relying basis. It can help a person learn things for themselves, and at the same time, get the help they need, but can’t get from themselves. Direct therapy is what most people will think of when they think of therapy. During direct therapy, as expected, a therapist takes a more “direct” route to treatment. The therapist will have the client write down, draw, talk about, etc. their problems, and then will proceed to try and fix the problem from the core. Although different, both ways of treatment are effective, it just depends, like everything else, on the therapist and client.
            A way of emotional help, in which you may, or may not, expect is with drugs. There are many legal drugs, antidepressants, that you can take, but do they work as well as good old fashion therapy? Even if they do, do most people agree with the use of drugs for this problem? Is it worth it to go to these measures? I guess that is just a preference, but it is important to know about the effectiveness of both before coming to your own conclusion.
            There are negative effects of taking drugs to help with emotional problems, contrary to what you may believe.  To start, “some of the costs of medications are underappreciated.” (Antonuccio 1) This provides you with a very logical and relatable argument. Unless you are a Hollywood star or lawyer, things are expensive, and you may not always have the money for medication. Although both do cost money, there are ways that you can get therapy without having to pay, if you cannot afford it. Also, “research suggests that antidepressants are the most common agents used in suicide by poisoning and are responsible for half of serious adult overdoses.” (Antonuccio 1) Remember, that you are taking these medications because you are depressed. If you are not being supervised, which is more occasions than not, you may not have the strength on your own to believe that you are worth it. You may believe that it is your time to go, which is controversial, but you could overdose and commit suicide which is not a good thing. With the support of a therapist, this is not likely to happen.
            Another option for using drugs with emotional treatment, is a combination of therapy, the old-fashioned way, and medication. Research has shown that, “82% of the weighted evidence indicated no advantage of combined treatment over psychotherapy alone.” (Antonuccio 1) It has been explained that the combination of drugs and therapy has not indicated a more effective treatment, than just therapy, I most cases. If preferred, it is possible to combine the two treatments, but, in my opinion, it would be a waste of hard earned money, because in almost all cases examined, no greater effects have been shown.
            As you have learned, therapy is not just one treatment, it is many different, yet the same, treatments, all of which are effective. There are many options for people to get help for their problems fixed. If you want, you can use psychotherapy or interactive therapy. It is also an option to use things like medication or even video games, to get better. Whatever works for you, is what therapy is, to you.
For many people who suffer from traumatic events or even just regular, old teenage depression, therapy is a life saver. Therapy is an effective way to get rid of all of your problems and insecurities, therapy is like a drug. Therapy is like CPR. Therapy is a necessity. Therapy, is in fact all of these things, for some people. If you are in need of help, a stranger therapist is willing to help you, but you have to be willing to get help. Therapy is a beautiful thing, in which so many people use. Could life go on without therapy? It depends on who you are.
In researching therapy for my literature review, I have found a gap. The gap I have found in my research includes the fact that therapy is effective in most cases. In my literature review, I explained why people seek the help of therapy and the results of therapy, but I never explained, in depth, the aspects of therapy that influence the outcome of therapy. I explained that you need to be involved, as a client, in your therapy in order to make it effective, but I never explained how you can do that. In other words, what can you do to make your own therapy effective and be involved?   
According to suburban, high school students, what about clients effects the outcome of their therapy?
            In order to fill my gap, I have decided to conduct a survey. The survey is geared towards suburban high school students. I have also come to the conclusion that I will be using mostly qualitative data to fill my gap because I believe it will be the most effective way possible. The belief that, “qualitative research methods can be used to identify causal relationships and develop causal explanations is now accepted by a significant number of both qualitative and quantitative researchers,” (Maxwell) which makes qualitative data well-suited for my research. Qualitative data is usable in ways that quantitative data isn’t, and never will be, but at the same time quantitative data can be used in ways qualitative data can’t. This is why my survey will reveal both qualitative and quantitative data. The emotional beliefs of high school students will fill the gap from my literature review.  
            My survey was constructed in five short, easy-to-answer questions which would help me close the gap I have found in my research. I started off with the question; “which of the following effects the positive or negative outcome of therapy? (Circle all that apply). I gave the options of; age, season/time of the year, therapist gender, client gender, and group or individual to choose from. These were the main things I believe may effect therapy’s outcome, and I wanted to see what my peers would think about them. I next asked whether or not the person had received therapy. I wanted this information because I wanted to have data from the perspective of someone who has gone through therapy and someone who hasn’t gone through therapy. The final two questions of my survey consist of opinionated questions. One of them being; “Would you receive therapy if you needed it? Why or why not?” Through my survey I was hoping to unleash the deep, emotional opinions of high school student from a suburban area, and I also wanted to know the percentage of the students who believed certain things. For these reasons, I made my survey accordingly. 
            I surveyed 16 Norton High School students in order to fill the gap of my research. I surveyed both people who have had therapy and people who haven’t gone through therapy. I chose to make the research anonymous, so people’s answers would be more truthful. It is important in my research that I got the opinions of people who have had experience with therapy and people who haven’t had experience with therapy so that both sides of the story are told. I wanted to find information in high school students from a suburban area, because I can relate well to them and understand them better.
1.         Which of the following effects the positive or negative outcome of therapy? (circle all that apply)
-           Age
-           Season/Time of year
-           Therapist Gender
-           Clients Gender
-           Group or Individual

2.         Have you ever received therapy yourself?

3.         Explain why you circled at least one of the answers in question #1.

4.         Would you receive therapy if you needed it? Why or why not?

5.         Do you think therapy is a good resource for people? Why or why not?
After reviewing the surveys I have received from my fellow high school students, I have a lot of interesting data. 75% of people who took the survey said that they have not received therapy and 25% had received therapy.  On question #1, of the people who said that they had not received therapy, 67% said that age was a factor, 25% said that season/time of year was a factor, 42% said that therapist gender was a factor, 42% said that client gender was a factor, and 83% said that group or individual was a factor. As far as the students who have received therapy, on question #1, 75% said that age was a factor, 25% said that season/ time of year was a factor, 75% said that therapist gender was a factor, 50% said that client gender was a factor, and 75% said that group or individual was a factor. According to the people who have not received therapy, on questions #4, 100% of people said that they would receive therapy if they needed it. The most common reasoning of people was to see if it would help them. On question #4, 75% of people who have received therapy said that they would receive therapy again if they needed it. The one who said that they wouldn’t had a bad experience with their previous therapist. On question #5, people answered yes 100% of the time because they believe that therapy can be a good option depending on the person.
Overall, people believe that therapy is a fantastic resource for people who are emotionally struggling. People believe that age, season/ time of year, therapist gender, client gender, and group or individual therapy are all factors to whether or not therapy will be successful. I have found that it is believed by the students that age and group or individual are the biggest factors. Age can be a huge factor because if the client is too young then they may not cooperate with the treatment as well as someone who is older and is more willing to do things, all due to experience in life. Group or individual therapy can also be a great factor because some people may think that they will be judged by others and won’t want to open up in a group setting, but others may find the extra support very helpful. All of these are believed to be factors, but in the end therapy has to be adjusted to the personality of the client.
All in all, therapy can be the best thing for someone or it can be the worst thing for someone and there are many factors that can and will influence the outcome of the treatment. I have found in my research that everything in therapy has to be specific to the person’s needs and personality. With the right therapist and way of treatment therapy can be successful, but if everything is not perfect than it will most likely not work. Future studies should focus more on how a therapist or client can adjust their needs to make therapy work better and this research is very important because people have depression and anxiety everyday of their lives and people should not have to live through that. More and more suicides are being reported and I believe that therapy can stop this, and that is why therapy is an extremely important subject to research.  
Antonuccio, David O., William G. Danton, and Garland Y. DeNelsky. "Psychotherapy versus medication for depression: Challenging the conventional wisdom with data." Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 26.6 (1995): 574.
Ceranoglu, T. Atilla. "Video games in psychotherapy." Review of General Psychology 14.2 (2010): 141.
Goldstein, Eda G. "Self-disclosure in treatment: What therapists do and don't talk about." Clinical Social Work Journal 22.4 (1994): 417-433.
Kalish, Miranda. "The Pros and Cons of Therapy." hubpagescom. N.p., 18 Feb. 2010. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
Lafferty, Patricia, Larry E. Beutler, and Marjorie Crago. "Differences between more and less effective psychotherapists: a study of select therapist variables." Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 57.1 (1989): 76.
Maxwell, Joseph A. "Using qualitative methods for causal explanation." Field methods 16.3 (2004): 243-264.
Pennebaker, James W., Emmanuelle Zech, and Bernard Rimé. "Disclosing and sharing emotion: Psychological, social, and health consequences." Handbook of bereavement research: Consequences, coping, and care (2001): 517-543.
Perry, J. Christopher, Elisabeth Banon, and Floriana Ianni. "Effectiveness of psychotherapy for personality disorders." American journal of psychiatry 156.9 (1999): 1312-1321.
Zech, Emmanuelle. "The effects of the communication of emotional experiences." Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium: University of Louvain (2000).