In the upcoming NY Times magazine article http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/magazine/08Psychoanalysis-t.html?_r=2 Daphne Merkin writes of her life in therapy.
It is not an activity I can personally relate to yet clearly millions have expended countless hours and much financial resources in its pursuit. Clearly it must provide healing for many yet in her article Merkin seems to have received little permanent help from her years in therapy.
Yet she seems determined to explore the underlying cause for her emotional disabilities. "I believed in the surpassing value of insight and the curative potential of treatment–and that may have been the problem to begin with. It may be important to explore the "casues" of one's mental and emotional anguish. Yet without a powerful drive of move past these memories, healing is not possible.
Perhaps in times past our ancestors relied on the family or tribal elders for wisdom. Shaman, clergy and spiritual leaders would probably offer advice as well. Yet it is hard to imagine that any ongoing "therapy" would have been performed in those days.
I'm imagining that the approach was to offer help and guidance with the assumption that the distressed individual would work the rest through on their own. Was it always successful? Doubtless no. Is therapy always successful? Obviously not.
My personal philosophy combines outside guidance with tremendous personal work–self-help. I like the cognitive/behavioral approach which does not dwell on the causes of dis-ease as much as practical methods to alter the mental as well as behavior aspects of the problem.
Meditation and prayer are attempts to personally find serenity.
Neurofeedback attacks the problem from the perspective of the brain itself while cognitive therapy and meditation act on the mind. As I have stated before, they are both aspects of one whole.
Ultimately it comes down to a personal choice but I'm not sure that I trust another human being, regardless of reputation and training to be the sole source of my own healing.
I believe it is part of our personal journeys to seek wisdom and healing mainly through our own efforts.
Relying on another human being is always risky. They may not be available at the times that you need them most. It is one of the draw-backs of the 12 Step approach in recovery.
Ultimately, the only one who is always with you—is you.