Why One-Size-Fits-All Approaches Fail

Dr. Robert F. Mullen

Numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

Recovery and motivational programs must
reflect our unique and individual personalities.

“Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI—deliberate, repetitive, neural information.” WeVoice (Madrid)

Recovery from emotional dysfunction and the pursuit of goals and objectives is an individual process. Just as there is no one right way to do or experience learning and unlearning, so also what helps us at one time in our life may not help us at another.

It is myopic of recovery programs to lump us into a single niche. Individually, we are a conglomerate of personalities―distinct phenomena generated by everything and anything experienced in our lifetime. Every teaching, opinion, belief, and influence develops our personality. It is our current and immediate being and the expression of that being. It forms itself by core beliefs and is developed by social, cultural, and environmental experiences. It is our inimitable way of thinking, feeling, and behaving. It is who we are, who we think we are, and who we believe we are destined to become. It is expressed by the simultaneous mutual interaction of our mind, body, spirit, and emotions.

The insularity of cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychologies, and other approaches cannot comprehensively address the complexity of the personality. The approaches best suited to support proactive neuroplasticity are those that help us construct our information while supporting the learning/unlearning aspect of neural restructuring, i.e., replacing toxic with positive, productive information. We are best served by the integration of approaches, developed through clinical study, client targeting, cultural assimilation, and therapeutic innovation. Our environment, heritage, background, and associations reflect our wants, choices, and aspirations. If they are not given consideration, then we are not valued.

A collaboration of science and east-west psychologies is essential to capture the diversity of human thought and experience. Science gives us proactive neuroplasticity; cognitive-behavioral modification and positive psychology’s optimal functioning are western-oriented, and eastern practices provide the therapeutic benefits of Abhidharma psychology and the overarching truths of ethical behavior. Included in this program are targeted approaches utilized to restore self-esteem by correcting maladaptive and self-defeating thoughts and behaviors.

In the disease model of mental healthcare, we are treated as our diagnosis rather than individuals with concerns and issues. The traits, characteristics, and symptoms defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) are subject to substantial deviations in definition, epidemiology, and treatment. Mental health experts maneuver among multiple types of depression, several anxiety disorders, nine obsessive-compulsive disorders, five types of stress response, and ten personality disorders sharing similar traits and symptomatology with varying degrees of impact. A cumulation of experts has social anxiety disorder comorbid with avoidant personality disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, OCD, PTSD, and schizophrenia. Of U.S. adults with any mental disorder, in a one-year period, 14.4 percent have one disorder, 5.8 percent have two, and 6 percent have three or more. 60% of those with anxiety also have depression and vice versa, and both are regularly comorbid with substance abuse. 

The disease model of mental health focuses on what is wrong with us. It is based on the history of our negative behavior. The Wellness Model emphasizes our character strengths, virtues, and attributes that generate the motivation, persistence, and perseverance to recover and pursue our goals and objectives. A battle is not won by focusing on incompetence and weakness; it is won by knowing and utilizing inherent strengths and attributes. That is how we successfully recover―with pride and self-reliance and determination―with the awareness of what we are capable of. 

All treatment programs are flawed to some extent; integration into a platform of approaches can compensate for that ineffectiveness. Let us use the example of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Almost 90 percent of the approaches to recovery involve cognitive-behavioral treatments. However, many critical studies dispute CBT’s efficacy, claiming it fares no better than non-CBT programs. They argue its effectiveness has deteriorated since its introduction, concluding it is no more successful than mindfulness-based therapy for depression and anxiety. 

Despite these criticisms, the program of thought and behavior modification pioneered by Beck in the 1960s is still useful in modifying the irrational thoughts and behaviors that sustain a disorder when used in concert with other approaches.

Positive psychology has its critics, too. They claim positive psychology is still in its formative stage and, despite recent scientific attention to the positive spectrum of human potential, has yet to be integrated into mainstream theory, assessment, and treatment options.

Until recently, the focus on optimal functioning’s positive aspects ignored the individual’s holism by neglecting their negative aspects. The emergence of PP2.0 rectified the lacuna. Positive psychology now emphasizes the positive while managing and processing the negative to increase well-being.

Platform Integration

Even mainstream medical authorities have begun to recognize the unreliability of conventional psychiatric diagnoses. A recent Canadian study reported, that of 289 participants in 67 clinics meeting DSM-IV criteria for social anxiety disorder, 76.4% were improperly diagnosed. The Anxiety Institute in Phoenix reports an estimated 8.2% of clients had generalized anxiety, but just 0.5% were correctly diagnosed. Experts cite the mental health community’s difficulty distinguishing different disorders or identifying specific etiological risk factors due to the fluidity and ambiguity of the DSM. Focusing on the individual personality would compensate for the statistical failures of diagnosis based on the disease model’s reliance on DSM criteria.

The massive number of revisions, substitutions, and changes from one DSM to the next is never universally accepted. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and researchers who specialize or survive by funding are justifiably protective of their territory. Even under the best circumstance with a knowledgeable and caring clinician, it is difficult to get a proper diagnosis. What is crucial is communication and collaboration between subject and clinician, eliminating the power dynamic of the diagnostic process. 

We are better served by the integration of multiple traditional and non-traditional approaches, including those defined as new (third) wave (generation) therapies, developed through client trust, cultural assimilation, and therapeutic innovation. Our environment, heritage, background, and associations reflect our wants, choices, and aspirations. If they are not given consideration, then we are not valued.

We must address the individual over the diagnosis and create individual-based solutions. Training in prosocial behavior and emotional literacy might be useful supplements to typical interventions. Behavioral exercises can be used to practice the execution of considerate and generous social skills. Positive affirmations have enormous subjective value as well. Data provide evidence for mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions. Motivational enhancement strategies could help clients overcome their resistance to new ideas and concepts. Many therapists tout the benefits of positive autobiography to focus on our positive life experiences. Evidence-based solutions must address issues of self-esteem.

The best solution is an integrated platform of approaches targeting the personality. Diagnoses must be vigorously challenged by individual concerns and experiences, and treatment programs must reflect this dynamic. 

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

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