At the beginning of the 2018 first theoretical seminar on Control-Mastery Theory of the Control-Mastery Theory-Italian Group (CMT-IG), I asked the twenty-five new members of our Association to explain the reasons they decided to become CMT practitioners. Most of them were already practicing psychotherapists, others were completing their training in some other form of psychotherapy, a few were psychologists that still needed to become psychotherapists, and most of them were in analysis or had completed some other form of personal psychotherapy.
Deciding to become members of the CMT-IG, they decided to dedicate at least three years of their life to learn CMT, first from a theoretical and then also from a clinical perspective, and to dedicate at least part of their professional life to use and expand our approach, without any other “practical” gain apart from becoming CMT practitioners. For this reason, I was quite curious about the reasons of their choice.
Most of the new members of our Association had learned something about CMT by listening to the lessons on CMT that I teach in Sapienza University during my course in Dynamic Psychology, or to the seminars on CMT that I have in several Master Programs in psychoanalytic psychotherapy or in cognitive psychotherapy.
Following, I will report their replies, grouping them in a way that seems sensible to me. George Silberschatz, John Curtis, Marshall Bush and I have found these reasons instructive.
The positive qualities of the CMT theory
The theory is clear and straightforward.
It is flexible and, at the same time, precise.
It is integrative, i.e. it enables therapists to use techniques of different approaches within a coherent and unified frame.
It provides a way to understand and plan both psychotherapy and social work within a unified theoretical frame.
CMT helps to make sense of the patient experience
It helps the clinician to see the world through the patients’ lenses.
It enables us to make sense of the patients’ psychological conditions and needs quite rapidly.
It helps to make sense of the patient history and of its consequences.
It gives clear practical implications on how to work with a patient.
The case-specificity of CMT clinical approach
It puts the patient’s needs ahead of the therapist model.
It is case-specific, not disorder specific.
The way CMT affects the clinical work
It enables the clinician to make sense and "use" therapeutically the patient-therapist relationship;
It supports the therapist in being bold and authentic when needed.
It legitimizes more directive and protective interventions, which are "forbidden" in classical psychoanalysis, if they are in line with the patient plan.
It pushes the therapist to take position, supporting the patient’s healthy goals and contrasting her/his pathogenic beliefs and schemas. In other words, the therapist does not need to always be neutral.
It enables us to understand why some interventions or actions, which are considered 'wrong' in a classical psychoanalytic perspective, actually work.
It helps to understand the reasons why some therapies, which theoretically are supposed to be effective, do not actually work.
The empirical foundation of CMT
Its concepts are empirically tested and testable.
Its effectiveness is empirically grounded.
The optimism of the theory
CMT supports the clinician’s trust in the adaptive capacities of the patient.
It stresses pro-social motivations and unconscious higher mental functioning.
It enables the clinician to work well with patients who do not behave as they are supposed to behave in therapy.
It helps the therapist to have a more positive view of very difficult patients, and even in the worst moments of a psychotherapy.
It enables therapists to help even apparently “untreatable” patients.
And finally, CMT helps the therapist to better understand themselves.
There is much more that could be said about each of these points, but for now I will leave that to the reader. What I would like to stress is that our theory seems to be appreciated because it is useful for understanding and treating patients and because it is strongly ingrained in both clinical reality and empirical research.