The three components of Better than Cured, psychotherapy, psychiatric medication and life coaching, play different roles.
Psychotherapy includes replacing old patterns that have caused problems in the past with new behaviors; looking at the world with less fear and more courage; taking apart painful situations and ill-advised decisions of the past to learn from them so as to adopt healthier thinking and attitudes based on newly found confidence, knowledge and wellness. One exercise I often do with my patients is reframing the problem by creating a paradigm shift. For example, I suggest they watch financial guru Suze Orman’s shows and substitute the word “emotions” for the word “finances.” This gives them a crash course in how to avoid an emotional crisis, not just a financial one. Here’s how this may work. Orman talks about how to build financial (emotional) capital, how to make good choices with your finances (emotions), how to look at the financial (emotional) environment to make the best decisions which will influence their short and long term financial (emotional) health.
The “manage finances: manage emotions” analogy is just one example of reframing. Finding that “angle,” weighing various choices and mapping out steps to solve even the most complicated emotional predicaments, usually shift my patients’ psyches from passivity to action, from powerlessness to a sense of control. Approaching life’s challenges logically implies a new way of thinking and a more progressive, imaginative, and open frame of mind. This is what the Better than Cured method provides.
Therapy without the additional help of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications may be enough to improve the lives of people who have mild to moderate depression or anxiety. However, those who experience more severe depression—a deep sense of hopelessness, helplessness and lethargy–may not be able to heal using therapy alone. In addition, those who suffer from severe panic attacks, inescapable obsessions and compulsions and other paralyzing irrational fears need more help to get over the hump. That is where medication can play an important role in healing. Once these symptoms begin to improve with a carefully modulated program of medication, the life-coaching work begins.
Once the symptoms of depression and anxiety are significantly improved, people realize they can ask much more from life. The old barriers—guilt, shame, depression, anxiety—fall as if a sculptor has chiseled them away. A newly empowered self emerges. Now patients realize that they can do so much more with their lives. The next step is developing strategies for them to become the person they were meant to be. This involves life-coaching: the establishment of long and short-term goals and pursuit of them with a step-by-step strategy that is developed in partnership with the patient. The Better than Cured method nurtures in people qualities buried deep within them–so deep, they’d forgotten they had them–qualities like courage, enthusiasm, initiative, playfulness, endurance and joie de vivre–thus placing them on a sure track to happiness.
Emotional crises can be avoided or at the very least, well-managed in ways that avoid years of suffering; destruction of important relationships; and loss of jobs, money, and quality of life. Just as people can prevent diabetes or heart conditions by making lifestyle changes (eating healthful foods, exercising, and managing stress), so can they prevent anxiety and depression by changing the way they manage their lifestyle and stress levels. This is true for all of us, even if we are genetically predisposed to developing these disorders. Just because anxiety and depression run in the family does not mean you should resign yourself to passively accepting a lifetime of suffering. We now have the knowledge to help one beat these odds. Better than Cured is a good example of how to do that.