I just returned from a wonderful Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (http://www.abct.org/home/) conference in Philadelphia. There are so many learning opportunities in life, but I always find it hard to carve out time for my own growth and development. So, in an effort to practice what I preach regarding self-care, every year I make myself take time for at least one conference. Sometimes it is the OCD Foundation conference (http://iocdf.org/), sometimes Traumatic Stress Studies (www.istss.org) but most frequently it is ABCT.
The reasons for this are many. One, it is good to be among friends. I see so many colleagues there who share my approach and understanding of psychology, from graduate school mentors, to contemporaries, to luminaries in the many fields of CBT research. Two, it is an opportunity to hear the newest research findings and make sure that my own practice is up-to-date with what we know works. Three, it helps with a problem called Therapist Drift. Therapist drift is a term that describes the tendency to deviate, gradually and over time, from best practices. It’s kind of like going to the gym and, after working out many times, realizing you no longer use the good form and posture your personal trainer beat into you a year ago. It’s not deliberate or malignant, and you still get a good workout – but you were just a little bit better when your trainer was there correcting every tiny shift of muscle.
Now, I’m sure some of you are thinking that your therapist is perfect, she can’t possibly have any problems! I am here to say that, unfortunately, we too are human and can find ourselves unintentionally losing focus without conscious awareness. BUT – put a therapist back in training, around people who talk about what and how they are doing things – and awareness spikes back up. So if you suddenly notice me bringing out the worksheets or asking about your therapy homework more assiduously….well, you can blame it on ABCT.