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Fewer People Are Willing to Change Themselves

According to Dr. Linda Gottlieb, the practice of psychotherapy in the United States is losing its client base. In 11 years the number of patients receiving psychological interventions plummeted by 30 percent (from 1997-2008). The reasons for this decline are complex, but Dr. Gottlieb focuses on one trend: psychotherapy involves the long, hard work of facing our own issues, but many people today would rather blame others for their problems. In other words, psychotherapists used to see patients who were unhappy and wanted to understand themselves. Now they see more patients who come in "because they wanted someone else or something else to change." As one of Gottlieb's colleagues put it, "I'd see fewer and fewer people coming in and saying, 'I want to change [myself].'"

So therapists are hiring "rebranding consultants" who are offering the following advice. Rather than say, "I treat people with depression and anxiety," advertise your services by asking, "Are you having trouble with the difficult people in your life?" Rather than identify as a "psychotherapist," use a more positive title, like "happiness locator." And rather than emphasize the pain and cost of personal transformation, provide extravagant sales pitches like, "You will feel empowered and at peace. Handling day-to-day struggles will be a breeze." Gottlieb admits that all of this is unprofessional and unrealistic but at least it gets clients in the door.

Possible Preaching Angles: (1) Repentance; Blame; Sin, confession of—This illustration reflects our tendency to blame others rather than face and confess our own sin. (2) Discipleship—It also shows how we in the church can minimize the cost of discipleship and promise unbiblical claims for following Jesus.

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