But offering guidance and inspiration to the next generation of psychotherapists is exceedingly problematic today, because our field is in such crisis. An economically driven health-care system mandates a radical modification in psychological treatment, and psychotherapy is now obliged to be streamlined – that is, above all, inexpensive and, perforce, brief, superficial, and insubstantial.

I worry where the next generation of effective psychotherapists will be trained. Not in psychiatry residency training programs. Psychiatry is on the verge of abandoning the field of psychotherapy. Young psychiatrists are forced to specialize in psychopharmacology because third-party payers now reimburse for psychotherapy only if it is delivered by low-fee (in other words, minimally trained) practitioners. It seems certain that the present generation of psychiatric clinicians, skilled in both dynamic psychotherapy and in pharmacological treatment, is an endangered species.

What about clinical psychology training programs – the obvious choice to fill the gap? Unfortunately, clinical psychologists face the same market pressures, and most doctorate-granting schools of psychology are responding by teaching a therapy that is symptom-oriented, brief, and, hence, reimbursable.

So I worry about psychotherapy – about how it may be deformed by economic pressures and impoverished by radically abbreviated training programs. — Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy

A lot of people say that the only reason why someone would actively seek to study psychology or psychotherapy is to solve his own problems and deal with his own deficiencies. This is of course an overly simplistic view, one that forgets about compassion, the wish to help, and the wish to understand the unquantifiable. The fact of the matter is that we are all imperfect and there are always little blemishes in our happiness and contentment. To me it seems obvious that psychology is one of the best tools to remove obstacles to personal growth, change, and life improvement. I have been lucky enough to be in long-term contact with two great teachers – a woman who has turned her borderline-personality disorder around with the help of therapy, and a future psychologist now studying in America. Both of them threw my mind in different directions and made it possible for me to follow many strands of thought, many areas of study, and to meet numerous other people who have otherwise positively affected my personal growth.

Frankly, I believe that it is the mission of any individual to seek ways to deal with his problems – and there are ways to deal with any problem as I have found out.

I can’t give any general guidelines – me and the Knight have tried that before but it did not seem to do much. Maybe it will suffice to say that interests, hobbies, activities, and reading lists should reflect what you want to become, what you want to learn. If you identify something about you that you don’t like, don’t repress it, or deny it – instead actively seek ways to overcome the obstacle. There are obstacles on every path and there always has to be effort to overcome them. The difference between an accomplished individual and an unaccomplished one is that the unaccomplished one did not face his obstacles, or failed to acknowledge their existence. Do not be so arrogant as to make the same mistake.

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