Collaborative therapy

Collaborative therapy is a therapy developed by Harlene Anderson,[1] along with Harold A. Goolishian (1924–1991),[2] in the USA. It is intended for clients who are well educated in any field, or for those that have distrust of psychotherapists due to past negative experiences with one or more.[3]

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Therapy developed by Harlene Anderson

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Collaborative therapy gives the client the option to have a “non-authoritarian” counsellor, for clients who are not heteronormative, who have gender dysphoria or are transgender, or who choose to live an alternative lifestyle. Anderson used collaborative therapy in family therapy and marriage therapy with success, and believed it could help families and partners to understand the client better, should the client find that they cannot adhere to social norms any more, such as coming out as transgender or homosexual.

Collaborative therapy is intended primarily for adults, and for those suffering with dual diagnosis, (i.e. more than one mental health issue usually due to substance abuse such as alcohol and non-prescription drugs); bipolar disorder, chronic schizophrenia and parents with psychosis (page 20),[4]Body Dysmorphic Disorder (page 1)[5]

The model is a postmodernist approach that maintains that human reality is created through social construction and dialogue, and aims to avoid “the traditional Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) used to diagnose individuals”.[3] It uses the idea that the clients become subject to mental pain when they have tried to apply ” oppressive [‘]stories[‘], which dominate the person’s life. It posits that problems occur when the way in which peoples’ lives are storied[clarification needed] by themselves and others does not significantly fit with their lived experience. It also assumes that significant aspects of their lived experience may contradict the dominant narrative in their lives. It states that the client internalizes what they regard as unreasonable societal standards, and in doing so are aspiring to ideals of fulfillment and excellence, leading to, for example, self-starvation and anorexia, extreme self-criticism in clinical depression, or a sense of powerlessness in the face of threat and anxiety” (page 1);[6]obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and trichotillomania (hair pulling). These last two mental health issues as well as anorexia can often symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be useful to treat this last condition.) (page 2)[5]

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