As my grandmother told me, “there is more than one way to skin the cat.” Because of modern science, we understand with great precision what types of things cause other things. We also recognize the diversity of influence from a broad range of domains on the human experience. In psychology, we consider social, psychological, cultural, and biological factors.
Included in the diversity of these domains are a myriad of theoretical models and their incorporating assessments and interventions. When I first began practicing as a therapist, I would often think, “I wonder which model is the best and which impacting factor is most important.” I have come to learn that the answer is: all.
I think we often get stuck in attempting to fix a problem through the first thing we identify:
- I drink too much; I must be addicted to alcohol.
- My husband cheated on me; he must not be sexually fulfilled.
- I cannot find a good job; I must not be outgoing enough.
- I am overweight; I must have bad genes.
And why there “may” be truth in short-drawn conclusions, there are also various determinants, not as alternatives, but as contributors. If true, we can take a holistic approach to complex situations that generate better perspectives, lasting changes, and more permanent resolutions.
I remember working with a client who struggled to find a partner. He felt he wasn’t handsome enough and spent most of his time trying to make himself physically attractive. I felt there was more to his situation. As it turned out, he had a tiny social group, and he thought he wasn’t likable because he was older. He also was taught you marry somebody who has never been married because that was the acceptable “way”. These were not small influences for him.
As we worked through these details, my client began to date more, often women who had been in a previous marriage. Eventually, he found his match. Imagine as we wrapped up, he realized looking “good” was only a small part of a giant puzzle.