Metaphors Built On A Basis Of Evidence

If we set out to provide treatment we need to offer the best treatment available. I consider this particularly so for children, who may not have the same discriminatory skills as adults and may not be as informed clients. We are fortunate that we are in an age of therapy where we have some solid evidence about what therapeutic techniques work well and what do not work so well. There is ample literature to guide therapists in efficacious interventions, such as Kazdin and Weisz's Evidenced-Based Psychotherapies for Children and Adolescents (2003), a compilation of studies by pioneering clinical researchers who provide evidence of effective therapies and strategies for applying them.

The art of skilled child therapists largely lies in their ability to develop a sound working alliance with the child and to translate the evidence-based data into an accessible, understandable, and applicable format for that given child client. How do you convert the language of scientific journals into the language and experience of an enuretic child or suicidal teenager? How do you communicate to a depressed child about cognitive distortions (Beck, Brown, Berchick, Stewart, & Steer 1990), learned patterns ofhelplessness (Seligman, 1990, 1995), and attributional styles (Yapko, 1992, 1997)? "Overcoming Adversity" (Stories 71 and 72) are built on the evidence-based, cognitive, attributional styles of people who cope well with adversity, and those who do not. The child version (Story 71) is an easy-listening tale that compares and contrasts the opposing cognitive styles of two young dinosaurs who respond differently to the same situation. One models optimism, specific thinking, an outward focus, concern for others, flexibility of thought, hopefulness, and a style that is based in action. The other is pessimistic, global in its thinking, and more self-focused. The second dinosaur's cognitive style is more fixed and rigid, oriented toward the past, and ruminative or worrisome. This fictional tale of the dinosaurs is based on the evidence about the differing cognitive and attributional styles between people who are depressed and those who are happy or more optimistic.

To say to a child, "You need to be more optimistic and less pessimistic in your thinking" may not have a lot of meaning—or a lot of impact—and may even have a negative impact. To quote research data that indicates, "You will handle life better if you think specifically rather than a globally, or if you are more action-oriented and less ruminative" is not likely to bring about the desired cognitive or behavioral changes. However, to wrap the evidence in a story such as the two young di-

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