Tag Archives: placebo

Does it matter if they (providers) really care about your recovery?

Does it matter of our doctors, nurses, therapist, clergy (or anyone involved in our healing process) really care?  Or is it all dependent on pills and checklists?

Many things are involved in the recovery of PTSD.  One aspect that we may not think about too often is the relationship between the provider of care—those involved in the healing process—and the one receiving the care.  Empathy and trust have been found to be important parts of care and recovery.  We are impacted by the empathy we perceive from those supposed to help us recover. 

Questions we may ask about a provider (consciously or otherwise):

  • Do they really care about my recovery?
  • Do they believe that I can recover?
  • Can I really trust them to keep all this stuff confidential?
  • Will they loss respect for me if they find out what I am really thinking and feeling?

Ronald Murphy, PhD in a symposium on PTSD notes:  “And a lot of therapists, and a lot of research shows that the best predictors of treatment—no matter what cognitive behavioral intervention you did—the best predictor was the degree of expressed empathy by the therapist and how much the patient felt understood by the therapist when you measure those things, very important. I think we underestimate the power of therapeutic alliance.”* 

Ted Kaptchuk, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard, observes that how physicians “frame perceptions” can affect the outcome.  A study done with people diagnosed with intestinal problems reveals this idea.  Even while receiving fake (placebo) care some patients actually go better—not just felt better—when the care was accompanied by empathetic interactions.**

If we are not making the progress that we would like in our recovery it may be helpful to consider the relationship and connection we have with those involved in our recovery.  There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that a care relationship is not working.

What do you think?  Does knowing/feeling a therapist (or other providers) really cares impact recovery?

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* http://harvardmagazine.com/2013/01/the-placebo-phenomenon

** http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/videos/transcripts/sat_change_2.pdf (National Center for PTSD, Readiness to Change in PTSD Treatment Part 2, Written Video Transcript pg 3) http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/materials/videos/change-ptsd-treatment.asp (Part 2 Video Time 9:50-10:11)