Factors of Dr. Jowdy's Approach:
“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
If you know Abraham Maslow’s work, you will not be surprised at all by the wisdom of his words.
As you explore your options when looking for a counselor, psychologist, or sport psychologist, you will find providers identifying themselves as Gestalt therapists, EMDR therapists, trauma therapists, chemical addiction counselors, certified performance consultants, mental training coaches, and mindfulness therapists. On one hand, the titles give you an idea of the type of counseling each therapist practices and the techniques they use. However, they also suggest that each practitioner has only a hammer, and not every problem is a nail.
The danger is that a practitioner with a narrow focus will have what we call blind spots. Because they are operating from just one perspective, you may find yourself not feeling any better while the therapist continues to hammer away with that one approach. This is actually a reportable offense. In every state, there is a department that regulates the practice of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and all other professionals who hold a license. You can call your state’s department of regulatory agencies in the event you are not feeling better and your treatment provider is not considering other options to help you, including referring you to another provider. The contact information for your particular state will be located on a form you sign prior to commencing treatment, typically called a disclosure and informed consent form.
The one-size-fits-all approach is common in the field of sport psychology. For example, anxiety in athletes (worry, concern, doubts, butterflies) prior to competition is a very common issue. Based upon traditional or conventional wisdom, the first thing a sport psychologist may do is try to help the athlete learn how to calm their nerves with a specific technique — relaxation training, for instance. Makes sense, right? The athlete is nervous, so help him or her relax. Research does show that relaxation training is highly effective with helping an athlete (or non-athlete) with nervousness, worry, or stress. But if that is the only tool the psychologist has, they may simply rely on that “hammer” and not search for the root cause of the anxiety. One of many underlying reasons for anxiety is an athlete giving a coach too much influence to dictate his or her feelings. I have worked with athletes who get terrified if their coach looks at them the wrong way. Unless that issue is addressed, the relaxation training merely serves as a Band-Aid and will break down over time.
What works for one person may not work for another. In the field of alcohol and drug treatment, for example, the most common approach is a 12-step program (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, etc.). There is brilliant wisdom in the 12 steps. They can be life changing, but not for everyone. Now, residential treatment centers charging upwards of $60,000 for a 30-day stay are offering other options, such as SMART Recovery and LifeRing.
I approach our time together by making your individual needs a priority. During the time we spend together, I always consider what seems to help people in general. But more importantly, I consider what it is about you that may require me to modify my approach to meet your individual needs. I do this by maintaining an ongoing dialogue with you about my suggestions to see if they resonate and are a good fit for you. I will invite you to be rigorously honest and speak with me about how the process is going. I encourage you to be an active participant in your journey.