Chapter 13: Therapies


Part One: Psychodynamic Therapies

Part Two: Different Approaches to Counseling

Part Three: Behavior Therapies

Part Four: Trends in Therapy


Overview of Chapter 13: Therapies

Many beginning students believe that all psychology is "doing therapy." By now, you know there is much more to psychology than this. However, it is true that over half of psychologists help people deal with personal problems in some way or another as part of their professional duties (see Chapter 1) and the proportion of psychologists involved in therapy of some kind is growing steadily. A large percentage of psychologists who call themselves clinical or counseling psychologists practice some form of psychotherapy.

How this chapter is organized

We follow a roughly chronological approach in this chapter, starting with the oldest approach to therapy and working toward more modern approaches.

The first type of therapy we consider is over 100 years old: cathartic therapy. It is aimed at exploring emotional incidents in a person's past, with the goal of airing out emotional traumas and robbing them of their power over the individual. We spend quite a bit of time with a single case history-that of Anna O. This case gave Sigmund Freud his inspiration, and it illustrates several important aspects of this approach.

After discussing Anna O. and Freud's therapy, we consider the approach of the so-called neoFreudian theorists who reacted to Freud, and here we run parallel to Chapter 11 (Personality Theories) by reviewing the ideas of Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, and Karen Horney in that order. Each of the three emphasized different aspects of analysis and treatment.

Next we move into the post-war era with the counseling approach of Carl Rogers. Rogers had a great impact on American psychology starting in the mid-1940s and continuing throughout the rest of the 20th Century. Although his therapy sounds simple and often works very well, Rogerian therapy is easily misunderstood and misapplied. We will discuss some misconceptions about Rogers's approach, as well as his ideas about how it was supposed to work.

A great contrast to Rogers's therapy is that of Albert Ellis, who invented Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). Ellis became influential in the 1960s and 1970s and was active right up to his death in 2007. While Rogers thought it was important for a therapist not to give advice or "push" a client one way or another, Ellis was quite pushy. His idea of therapy was to challenge irrational ideas and encourage a client to face up to life's problems realistically. We conclude the section on counseling psychology by considering paradoxical therapies which use reverse psychology.

Starting in the 1950s and gaining momentum in the 1960s and 1970s was an offshoot of laboratory conditioning techniques called behavior therapy. We discuss a selection of the classic behavior therapy techniques such as desensitization and exposure therapies, behavior rehearsal, plus cognitive behavior therapies such as Beck's therapy for depression.

In a final section, we consider some recent developments in psychotherapy, including the self-help movement that sprang to life in the 1970s and the rise of briefer therapies in the 1980s, and the modern emphasis on peer counseling and evidence-based therapies.

Related topics in other chapters

Applied behavior analysis, including many behavior change techniques, is discussed in Chapter 5 (Conditioning). The personality theories of Freud, Jung, and Adler are described in Chapter 11 (Personality). Psychiatric and developmental disorders and some of their treatments are discussed in Chapter 12 (Abnormal Psychology). Behavioral treatment of chronic pain, as well as therapies for stress and addiction, are discussed in Chapter 14 (Frontiers of Psychology).


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