5. How to use the eclectic approach effectively
Besides strictly adhering to a specific theory, psychologists and psychiatrists also need to learn how to find a more direct and effective approach to solving problems found in various cases. In psychology, this is called the eclectic approach.
Psychotherapists can follow a specific theory in psychology to counsel the patient. However, at certain times, the patient will manifest thought processes from different angles. For example, a patient with depression will usually also have panic disorder, and sometimes a patient with phobia may also have autism. Treatment that follows an objective report and evaluation may not be effective, so different methods should be employed to treat patients with depression and phobia.
As there are many psychotherapists who do not have confidence and a sense of ‘gut feeling’ toward a treatment’s effect, they have difficulty developing an accurate and guiding evaluation of their patients. In dealing with the patients’ psychological distress, they also have difficulty directly gaining evidence of a treatment’s effectiveness. Hence, the psychotherapists themselves have a gap in their approach to treatment. The eclectic approach is the process of listening to the patient while determining which approach to follow while counselling the patient. This can help the patient resolve their psychological distress more effectively.
I once counselled a patient with phobia using the eclectic approach. While listening to his family problems, half the time I expressed my acknowledgement, and the other half I expressed my scepticism. After that, I mentally placed the part which I agreed with to one side. As for the part which I was sceptical of, I employed methods which caused the patient to see a huge disparity, allowing him to understand where he had done wrong and to change his perception of the problem.
The eclectic approach is actually a challenge for psychotherapists. A professional needs experience and effective counselling skills to be able to continuously upgrade their problem-solving skills for their patients. Such is the most crucial element of the profession.