What about people like police officers and firefighters who witness terrible events? Is it helpful for them to reflect on their experiences?A lot of other psychotherapy doesn't work either, and much of it is harmful.
For years it was believed that emergency workers should undergo a debriefing process to focus on and relive their experiences; the idea was that this would make them feel better and prevent mental health problems down the road. After 9/11, for example, well-meaning counselors flocked to New York to help police officers, firefighters and rescue workers deal with the trauma of what they had seen.
But did it do any good? In an extensive review of the research, a team led by Richard McNally, a clinical psychologist at Harvard, concluded that debriefing procedures have little benefit and might even hurt by interrupting the normal healing process. People often distract themselves from thinking about painful events right after they occur, and this may be better than mentally reliving the events.
Friday, December 30, 2005
Example of failed psychotherapy
Grief therapy doesn't work: