The following paragraphs are from "Healing the Moral Animal: Lessons from Evolution." Meanwhile, (1) There are as many forms of evolutionary psychotherapy as there are forms of psychotherapy. All psychotherapy is an expression of our psychological adaptations for empathy, succorance, and alliance formation. (2) I think an explicit use should be more helpful than the obscure things we have done in the past under the name of "psychotherapy."
============ Barbershop Manners and Diner Chats.
Physicians, psychologists (including masters!), social workers, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, acupuncturists, foot rubbers, astrologers, palmists, ministers, teachers, barmaids, harlots, mothers, talk show hosts, friends next door, hairdressers, geishas, and village elders may have similar effectiveness for removing many emotional warts
Many aspects of evolutionary psychotherapy are similar to other types of therapy; there are also differences. Evolutionary techniques will -- once all the elements are in place -- have much in common with a visit to a barbershop in a small town or a chat over coffee at the diner. We have been helping each other since life began; the forms and settings shift but the essentials are constant. Mutual Aid was a fact before Kropotkin discovered it. Many elements of therapy are species general yet doctors are surprised and annoyed that other healers, without diplomas or licenses, can sometimes be as effective. There can also be a grandiose smugness that a territory is owned by a particular kind of practitioner; it isn't. The certificate, like other icons, entices people into the office but they won't come back if reciprocity, trust, and competence are not evident. It may be that their:
- Cheater detectors fire
- Sense of alliance is not satisfied
- Assumption of competence is challenged by therapist behavior
- Sense of privacy is violated
- Conclusion forms that the therapist will not be their tool for influencing a parent, mate, or supervisor.
None of these factors is surprising; all of them apply equally to therapists, barbershop confidences and diner chats. There are several contrasts with barbershop therapy. First, the barber doesn't have a receptionist or a set of forms take your history. He personally acquires what he needs to know. He also acquires only information that he needs to accomplish the haircut, not to satisfy a records review committee. Second, the barber extends respect. The client is seated higher than the barber, not the reverse. Third, return visits are acceptable and natural. Fourth, there is no expectation that insurance pay the bill. Fifth, the barber will not likely become wealthy by what he does. Unlike managed care assemblies, there are no fixed ratio schedule contingencies.
Finally, we TELL the client some stories -- as relevant and with "maybes" -- about:
- The Us/Them Chip at work, home, church, and between neighbors. It is a factor in child rearing and getting along with the spouse. It's probably also active in depression.
- "Cheater detectors," what they are and how they affect us in distressed marriages, job tensions, sibling disputes, teacher-pupil fights, and group conflicts.
- Hierarchy, respect, and self esteem. Their magnification into as bipolar disorder, mania, narcissism, depression, guilt, shame, spite, or excessive altruism.
- The effects of different survival and reproductive demands on women and on men that seem to have given us many shared traits -- and probably no exclusive ones -- but often expressed differently in the two sexes both in frequencies and intensities, correlated to a significant degree with the shape of our gonads and who gets to care for the new baby. Different reproductive tasks for each sex have implications for courtship. Men and women commonly have different perceptions and competing interests, both long and short term.
- Childhood competition between siblings and between a child and other children or with a teacher -- that kids will fight, especially with parents -- that may reveal solutions to delay or prevent the evolutionary, immediate one of "kick him out of school" and ensuing conflicts with mom's drive to "save my child."
- The possibility that his dilemmas were also seen in his parents, grandparents, or uncles and aunts. The word "maybe" is often appropriate while we identify landmarks for developing treatment plans while building an alliance with the client or between him and his estranged family.
- Emotional disorders -- panic, anxiety, grandiosity, and depression -- appear to have evolved functions that should be respected while we understand them and seek to alleviate distress. I believe it helps clients to have some information about fear, how it saved us, and how it may be different for each fear. Emotions are a tool that prompts us to attend to important things.
The helping professions are also different to the extent that we formalize them with regulation and professional codes, that we make exceptions (such as sharing information) explicit and only with client permission, that we become annoyed when people with other training also attempt to help the client ... that altruism from another person toward our client somehow cheats us! Finally, we can have a beer with the barber, swap crude jokes, flirt with his wife, or engage in barter ... all of which are subject to civil suit and personal redress, not licensing boards.