The Age of Acronyms

This blog-post by Stephanie Foster has been published by Psychiatry at the Margins. It begins:

On the first day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

Another version of CBT

“‘The Twelve Days of Acronyms’ parody song danced in my head as I encountered my third new acronym of the week. With alarming frequency, I happen upon so-called ‘new’ approaches to psychotherapy.  Mental health professions are wild about acronyms. I haven’t seen this much excitement over letters since Sesame Street. Psychotherapy approaches are increasingly identified by two-to-five letter acronyms (ACT, AEDP, CBT, CPT, DBT, RO-DBT, EFT, EMDR, TF-CBT, IFS, SFT, SE… hang on, there are only 200 more). My colleagues commonly refer to modalities that I’ve never heard of. In an attempt to mask cluelessness, I usually nod and pretend to know what they are talking about. The moment the colleague is out of earshot, I investigate the latest acronym. This typically results in eye rolls, groans, and now songwriting. The number of acronyms seems to be growing exponentially. In fact, two new acronyms have been released since you started reading this article.

… I didn’t always find acronyms so irksome, probably because there used to be fewer of them. I would describe my own training as a mix of humanistic principles and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The emphasis was on building the therapeutic relationship, coupled with the idea that the therapist could function as something of a skills trainer. I’m still on board with the former but have many qualms about the latter. In any event – and this is where I age myself – it seemed like a simpler time. Although the emphasis on techniques and acronyms was on the rise, we were generally steered towards broader categories of therapeutic intervention. The focus was on foundational principles and we were encouraged to find specific modalities that felt like a fit. At the time, there was one acronym to rule them all – CBT. Therapists can be rather notorious for jumping on the bandwagon and I was certainly no exception. I threw the CBT acronym around a lot. I would have gotten a tattoo but I don’t like needles …”

You can read more from here.

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