The Center for Applied Rationality has given its alumni a number of excellent tools to work on their bugs. Going through a workshop myself, I found that a lot of these tools are similar to therapeutic techniques, just reformatted to fit a more self-help-y context. Going through the workshop as a therapist, I had two goals: learn to use these techniques myself, and learn the translation between therapeutic technique and self help (in both ways!). As a therapist, it is useful to take self help techniques and turn them into something you can use in the room with a client. Similarly, it is useful to be able to take a therapeutic technique and find a way for the client to do it themselves at home. After all, the ultimate goal of a therapist is to get their clients to a space where they don't need therapy.

Just as translating therapy to self help is useful for ending therapy, translating self help to therapy is useful in beginning. When I begin seeing a client, one of my first questions is "What have you tried?". I want to know not only what has worked, but also what hasn't, and why, because this informs my theory as well as my choice of techniques.

That said, below I'm going to write a little bit about some of the techniques, and what you can learn about yourself based on which techniques work for you. Some of this may even hint at what types of therapy may work well for you. Of course, none of this is certain. You are not my client and I don't know you personally; most of this ranges from well-researched speculation to evidenced by anecdotes.

Bugs lists
If just the process of writing out your bugs is helpful in fixing them, there are a number of self help CBT resources that might be helpful. One of my favorites is called Mood Gym. If you are the kind of person who feels better just noticing how your thinking is illogical, CBT will probably do very well for you.

Inner Simulator
What CFAR calls the Inner Sim is pretty close to what Attachment Theory calls the Internal Working Model, and while pure Attachment Theory is something I'd use only for particular, deeply rooted issues, it is possible that including attachment work in your therapy would be useful if your Inner Sim tends to fail when it comes to what you expect out of interpersonal interactions.

It is also possible that kinks in your Inner Sim are due to problems with your narrative. If attempting Pre-hindsight always turns up the same answers (ie "What went wrong? I couldn't do it.") it might be good to check if this is due to problems in your self narrative (ie "I can't do anything right."). The theory that looks the most at this is called Narrative Theory, as you might expect.

Goal Factoring
Although often compared to Cost Benefit Analysis, I would be hesitant to assume that someone who likes goal factoring would like CBT. If this works for you for the same reason that creating a pros and cons list would, think of Cost Benefit Analysis as a step between that and Goal Factoring.

However, many people find that the biggest difference between these other techniques and Goal Factoring comes from the focus on whatever it is you want. If this is the case, Motivational Interviewing focuses on figuring out what motivates the client, and using that to come up with solutions.

Trigger-Action Planning
If you find that TAPs are the most useful thing you got out of the workshops, you might find other behavior modification techniques about as useful. Here we're talking more positive and negative reinforcement, as well as positive and negative punishment. Pure behaviorism is something a lot of therapists are hesitant to use unless a client suggests it, so if your therapist isn't specialized in this (ie many therapists who work with phobias are) then this might be something you have to bring up to them.

Socratic Ducking and Pair Debugging
If you often find that venting your problems leads you to a solution, it's possible that Rogerian Therapy (also called Person-Centered) is likely to work well for you. And if this is the case, you're lucky; you might not have to see a licensed therapist to get what you need. Since this is one of the more basic forms of therapy, going to a clinician in training may be just as good. If you process information better through text, or don't have the ability to see someone, websites like 7 Cups of Tea train people in active listening. You can use this for a one-off conversation, or regularly go back to the same Listener again and again to sort through things.

If your focus is more oriented toward self growth and less solving problems, Psychodynamic Therapy also involves lots of client talking and therapist listening, but instead of just trying to understand the problem and situation, the therapist is trying to more deeply understand the client, and why they think the way they do. If your problem is likely to be rooted in past experiences and trauma, Psychodynamic is also more likely to be helpful.

In Pair Debugging, it is made very clear that the Debugger's goal isn't to solve the problem, but to understand it. If you wanted someone to just throw solutions at you, Solution-Focused Therapy does exactly this.

Shoulds
The section on Shoulds is not far from what CBT says about shoulds. CBT categorizes shoulds as a type of faulty thinking, so if the most helpful part of Understanding Shoulds is the thought that even a false belief can feel true, I'd once again recommend CBT. However, Shoulds remind us of our goals, and if you find Shoulds particularly good at this, it might be good to look at Humanistic theories or Internal Family Systems. Humanistic theories are good if you see Shoulds at pointing to a need you have deep down, whereas Internal Family Systems is more likely to see Shoulds as coming from a particular part of you that has important things to say. Essentially, the difference here is whether you want to do parts work or not.

Focusing
While focusing is used in many kinds of therapy, it is found most commonly in Humanistic theories such as Gestalt. As with Shoulds, it can be used with IFS, in this case as a way of noticing which parts want to speak and what they have to say. If focusing works well for you, one of these theories might also work well, though again, which one you pick depends more on your philosophy of the self.

CoZE
This one's a bit of a stretch, so bear with me. If comfort zone expansion is your thing, Experiential Therapy might work well. This is especially the case if you're seeking family or couples therapy. The thought here is that for Experiential Therapy to feel fulfilling, your client needs high Openness to New Experience (on the Big 5) and the more into CoZE you are, the higher that Openness is likely to be. If you were in session with a therapist and your therapist said "Let's try an experiment", would that excite you, or scare you? Typically, therapeutic experiments play out similarly to CoZE: try this thing, notice what it feels like, and notice what happens, then talk about it. If this sounds good to you, Experiential Therapy might be a good fit.

Resolve Cycles
If brainstorming solutions seems like the best way to approach a problem, Solution-Focused Therapy might be good for you. In particular if the time pressure that comes with Resolve techniques are helpful, Brief Therapy might also be helpful. Though Brief Therapy is usually only recommended in cases where money or time is an issue, Having a set, limited number of sessions with a therapist may motivate you in the same way that Resolve Cycles do.

Internal Double Crux
Since IDC relies on the use of parts, anyone for whom this works might want to try IFS. One of the hardest parts of IFS is understanding all the parts involved without judgment, and if you are able to handle those demands while doing IDC, then IFS is likely to work well for you.

Hamming Questions
At the workshop I went to, we were given a list of Hamming Questions, and some time on each one. To many, it was obvious which kinds of questions were more fruitful. Some questions force you to think of the narrative of your life (ie "If your life is a novel, what is that obvious next thing?") which suits Narrative Therapy. The idea of using something convenient as "pica for" something you need fits a number of Psychodynamic techniques and ideas really well. And of course, Gendlin's Focusing check lends itself to Humanistic theories, since they often employ focusing or similar techniques to bring up bugs and problems.


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