For unlimited access to Textbook Notes, a Class+ subscription is required.
The Psychological Therapies
Psychotherapy consists of interactions between a trained therapist and someone
seeking to overcome psychological difficulties or achieve personal growth. The major
psychotherapies derive from the psychoanalytic, humanistic, behavioral, and cognitive
perspectives on psychology. Today, many therapists combine aspects of these
perspectives in an eclectic approach or psychotherapy integration, sometimes in a group
1: What are the aims and methods of psychoanalysis, and how have they been
adapted in psychodynamic therapy?
- Through psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud and his students aimed to help people
gain insight into the unconscious origins of their disorders, to work through the
accompanying feelings, and to take responsibility for their own growth.
Techniques included free association, dream analysis, and interpretation of
resistances and transference to the therapist of long-repressed feelings.
Contemporary psychodynamic therapy has been influenced by traditional
psychoanalysis but is briefer and less expensive. It focuses on a patient’s current
conflicts and defenses by searching for themes common to many past and present
important relationships. Interpersonal therapy (a brief 12- to 16-session form of
psychodynamic therapy) deals primarily with current symptoms (such as
depression) rather than the origins of unconscious conflicts.
2: What are the basic themes of humanistic therapy, such as Rogers’ client-centered
- Humanistic therapists have focused on clients’ current conscious feelings and on
their taking responsibility for their own growth. Carl Rogers’ client-centered
therapy proposed that therapists’ most important contributions are to function as a
psychological mirror through active listening and to provide a growth-fostering
environment of unconditional positive regard, characterized by genuineness,
acceptance, and empathy. The humanistic and psychoanalytic therapies are known
as insight therapies.
3: What are the assumptions and techniques of the behavior therapies?
- Behavior therapists do not attempt to explain the origin of problems or to promote
self-awareness. Instead, they attempt to modify the problem behaviors
themselves. Thus, they may counter condition behaviors through exposure
therapies, such as systematic desensitization, virtual reality exposure therapy, or
aversive conditioning. Or they may apply operant conditioning principles with
behavior modification techniques, such as token economies.
4: What are the goals and techniques of the cognitive therapies?
- The cognitive therapies, such as Aaron Beck’s cognitive therapy for depression,
aim to change self-defeating thinking by training people to look at themselves in
new, more positive ways. The widely researched and practiced cognitive-behavior
therapy also helps clients to regularly practice new ways of thinking and talking.
5: What are the aims and benefits of group and family therapy?
- Group therapy sessions can help more people and cost less per person than
individual therapy would. Clients may benefit from knowing others have similar
problems and from getting feedback and reassurance. Family therapy views a
family as an interactive system and attempts to help members discover the roles
they play and to learn to communicate more openly and directly.
6: Does psychotherapy work? Who decides?
- Because the positive testimonials of clients and therapists cannot prove that
therapy is actually effective, psychologists have conducted hundreds of outcome
studies of psychotherapy using meta-analyses. Studies of randomized clinical
trials indicate that people who remain untreated often improve, but those who
receive psychotherapy are more likely to improve, regardless of the kind or
duration of therapy. Placebo treatments or the sympathy and friendly counsel of
paraprofessionals also tend to produce more improvement than no treatment at all.
7: Are some therapies more effective than others?
- No one type of psychotherapy is generally superior to all others. Therapy is most
effective for those with clear-cut, specific problems. Some therapies—such as
behavior conditioning for treating phobias and compulsions are more effective for
specific disorders. Evidence-based practice integrates the best available research
with clinicians’ expertise and patients’ characteristics and preferences.
8: How do alternative therapies fare under scientific scrutiny?
- Controlled research has not supported the claims of eye movement and
desensitization (EMDR) therapy. Light exposure therapy does seem to relieve the
symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
9: What three elements are shared by all forms of psychotherapy?
- All psychotherapies offer new hope for demoralized people; a fresh perspective;
and (if the therapist is effective) an empathic, trusting, and caring relationship.
10: How do culture and values influence the therapist client relationship?
- Therapists differ in the values that influence their aims. These differences may
create problems when therapists work with clients with different cultural or
religious perspectives. A person seeking therapy may want to ask about the
therapist’s treatment approach, values, credentials, and fees.
The Biomedical Therapies
The biomedical therapies treat psychological disorders with medications or medical
procedures that act directly on a patient’s nervous system.
11: What are the drug therapies? What criticisms have been leveled against drug
- Drug therapy is the most widely used biomedical therapy. The antipsychotic