Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – A CBT Guide To Theories & Professional Practice.
Author(s): Bill Andrews.
Edition: First (1st).
Publisher: Independently Published.
Type(s): Paperback and Kindle.
Here is finally a complete guide on CBT that is for the mental health practitioner as well as the clients. The guide is expansive on CBT with new ideas and suggestions for both clinical and non-professional settings.
The book’s main purpose will help you deliver:
Hacks for fast and effective treatments to most mental health issues.
A complete professional guide for mental health practitioners of all levels.
Detailed explanations and simple strategies anyone can help implement.
Effective uses including suggested therapies for most mental health disorders.
A well researched cognitive therapy guide explores powerful tools & suggested therapies, including everything you should know about CBT and it’s effective uses.
Both professional practitioner and even mental health novices can benefit from this power packed guide.
Finally you can deal with disorders in a fast and powerful way and we also include a complete range of important topics most other CBT guides omit like:
Changing Maladaptive Thinking.
Cognitive Behavioural Assessment Model Explanations.
Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) is a form of psychological therapy initially developed in the United Kingdom by Anthony Ryle.
This time-limited therapy was developed in the context of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) with the aim of providing effective and affordable psychological treatment which could be realistically provided in a resource constrained public health system. It is distinctive due to its intensive use of reformulation, its integration of cognitive and analytic practice and its collaborative nature, involving the patient very actively in their treatment.
The CAT practitioner aims to work with the patient to identify procedural sequences; chains of events, thoughts, emotions and motivations that explain how a target problem (for example self-harm) is established and maintained. In addition to the procedural sequence model, a second distinguishing feature of CAT is the use of reciprocal roles (RRs). These identify problems as occurring between people and not within the patient. RRs may be set up in early life and then be replayed in later life; for example someone who as a child felt neglected by parents perceived as abandoning might be vulnerable to feelings of abandonment in later life (or indeed neglect themselves).
As the name implies, CAT evolved as an integrative therapy based on ideas from cognitive and analytic therapies. CAT was also influenced in part by George Kelly’s constructivism. Kelly had developed personal construct theory and the repertory grid method, and Kelly’s approach to therapy “offered a model of nonauthoritarian practice” that psychotherapist Anthony Ryle found appealing.
Ryle, a general practitioner and analytically trained psychotherapist, was undertaking research into psychotherapy practice using repertory grids in the 1970s. He found that the themes eventually addressed in analytic work were in fact present in transcripts from the very first sessions. However the slow, exploratory nature of traditional analytic therapy meant that these were not always addressed early and assertively, with the result that therapy, while effective, took a long time to produce results. In a 1979 paper, he proposed a shorter, more active form of therapy which integrated elements from cognitive therapy practice (such as goal setting and Socratic questioning) into analytic practice. This would include explicitly formulating the problems experienced by the patient, and sharing this formulation with the patient to engage them in psychotherapy as a co-operative enterprise.
Subsequently CAT has been influenced by ideas from the work of Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky and Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin. From Vygotsky come concepts such as the zone of proximal development (ZPD) and scaffolding. The ZPD implies that new tasks set for the patient (for example, tolerating anxiety about social situations) should extend what they do beyond their current capabilities, but only by a small and achievable amount. Scaffolding involves the therapist providing support for the patient’s efforts to change, but varying this level of support as the patient’s needs change.
Bakhtin provided concepts such as dialogism from which come techniques such as Dialogical Sequence Analysis. This is a structured attempt to identify and visually display sequences of behaviour, thinking, and emotions so that the patient becomes more aware of these and can start to modify them.
The model emphasises collaborative work with the client, and focuses on the understanding of the patterns of maladaptive behaviours. The aim of the therapy is to enable the client to recognise these patterns, understand their origins, and subsequently to learn alternative strategies in order to cope better.
The approach is always time-limited, typically taking place over 8-24 weekly sessions (the precise number being agreed at the start of therapy). Sixteen sessions is probably the most common length. In the first quarter of the therapy (the Reformulation phase) the therapist collects all the relevant information, asking the patient about present day problems and also earlier life experiences. At that point the therapist writes a reformulation letter to the client. This letter summarises the therapist’s understanding of the client’s problems. Particular attention is given to understanding the connection between childhood patterns of behaviour and their impact on adult life. The letter is agreed between patient and therapist and forms the basis for the rest of the work.
After the reformulation letter the patient may be asked to complete diaries or rating sheets to record the occurrence of problems and their context. During this period (known as the Recognition phase) patient and therapist construct a diagrammatic formulation to illustrate the unhelpful procedures which maintain problems for the patient. The aim of this phase is to enable the patient to recognise when and how problems occur.
In the second half of the therapy work moves into the Revision phase, where patient and therapist identify and practice “exits” from the procedural diagram established in the previous phase. For example, a problematic procedure might move a patient from feeling angry to taking an overdose. An exit might involve expressing the anger in some way as an alternative to self-injuring behaviour.
At the end of the therapy, patient and therapist each write “goodbye letters” which they exchange, summarising what has been achieved in the therapy and what remains to be done. After the end of the agreed number of weekly sessions, planned follow-up sessions take place to monitor and support the changes that have been made. Typically, a 16-session CAT might be followed up by a single session one month after the end of therapy, and a final one three months later.
CAT has been the subject of a number of research studies published in peer-reviewed journals. These include randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and other kinds of study. The approach is too new for any systematic reviews of RCTs to have been conducted, and therefore is not yet explicitly recommended by name by the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). However NICE has recommended that there should be further research of CAT, for example in borderline personality disorder. A review of CAT research evidence published in 2014 reported that although there were five randomised controlled trials published, research evidence into the approach was dominated by small-scale, practice-based studies. These tended to be with complex and severe clinical groups; 44% of studies reviewed involved personality disorder. A review of CAT looking back over the 30 years to its beginnings contains a meta-analysis of 11 outcome studies of CAT. The overall number of patients treated in the studies was 324 and the average effect size across all studies was 0.83 (95% confidence interval 0.66-1.00). This is a large effect and suggests that CAT is efficacious in treating mental health problems.
Evidence from Randomised Controlled Trials
CAT has been shown to lead to subjective improvement in people with anorexia nervosa. It has also been shown to produce significant improvements in adolescents with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. A different trial suggested that CAT for adult patients with personality disorders also showed improvements in symptoms and interpersonal functioning, as against controls who deteriorated on these measures. CAT has also been shown to improve patients’ management of diabetes. An RCT of the use of a CAT-informed assessment for young people who had self-harmed suggested that it was effective in increasing rates of attendance at community follow-up.
Logotherapy was developed by neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, on a concept based on the premise that the primary motivational force of an individual is to find a meaning in life.
Frankl describes it as “the Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy” along with Freud’s psychoanalysis and Adler’s individual psychology. Logotherapy is based on an existential analysis focusing on Kierkegaard’s will to meaning as opposed to Alfred Adler’s Nietzschean doctrine of will to power or Freud’s will to pleasure. Rather than power or pleasure, logotherapy is founded upon the belief that striving to find meaning in life is the primary, most powerful motivating and driving force in humans.
A short introduction to this system is given in Frankl’s most famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he outlines how his theories helped him to survive his Holocaust experience and how that experience further developed and reinforced his theories. Presently, there are a number of logotherapy institutes around the world.
The notion of Logotherapy was created with the Greek word logos (“reason”). Frankl’s concept is based on the premise that the primary motivational force of an individual is to find a meaning in life. The following list of tenets represents basic principles of logotherapy:
Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stance we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.
The human spirit is referred to in several of the assumptions of logotherapy, but the use of the term spirit is not “spiritual” or “religious”. In Frankl’s view, the spirit is the will of the human being. The emphasis, therefore, is on the search for meaning, which is not necessarily the search for God or any other supernatural being. Frankl also noted the barriers to humanity’s quest for meaning in life. He warns against “…affluence, hedonism, [and] materialism…” in the search for meaning.
Purpose in life and meaning in life constructs appeared in Frankl’s logotherapy writings with relation to existential vacuum and will to meaning, as well as others who have theorised about and defined positive psychological functioning. Frankl observed that it may be psychologically damaging when a person’s search for meaning is blocked. Positive life purpose and meaning was associated with strong religious beliefs, membership in groups, dedication to a cause, life values, and clear goals. Adult development and maturity theories include the purpose in life concept. Maturity emphasizes a clear comprehension of life’s purpose, directedness, and intentionality which contributes to the feeling that life is meaningful.
Frankl’s ideas were operationalized by Crumbaugh and Maholick’s Purpose in Life (PIL) test, which measures an individual’s meaning and purpose in life. With the test, investigators found that meaning in life mediated the relationships between religiosity and well-being; uncontrollable stress and substance use; depression and self-derogation. Crumbaugh found that the Seeking of Noetic Goals Test (SONG) is a complementary measure of the PIL. While the PIL measures the presence of meaning, the SONG measures orientation towards meaning. A low score in the PIL but a high score in the SONG, would predict a better outcome in the application of Logotherapy.
According to Frankl, “We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering” and that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”. On the meaning of suffering, Frankl gives the following example:
“Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now how could I help him? What should I tell him? I refrained from telling him anything, but instead confronted him with a question, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive without you?:” “Oh,” he said, “for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!” Whereupon I replied, “You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it is you who have spared her this suffering; but now, you have to pay for it by surviving and mourning her.” He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left the office.
Frankl emphasized that realising the value of suffering is meaningful only when the first two creative possibilities are not available (for example, in a concentration camp) and only when such suffering is inevitable – he was not proposing that people suffer unnecessarily.
Philosophical Basis of Logotherapy
Frankl described the meta-clinical implications of logotherapy in his book The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy. He believed that there is no psychotherapy apart from the theory of the individual. As an existential psychologist, he inherently disagreed with the “machine model” or “rat model”, as it undermines the human quality of humans. As a neurologist and psychiatrist, Frankl developed a unique view of determinism to coexist with the three basic pillars of logotherapy (the freedom of will). Though Frankl admitted that a person can never be free from every condition, such as, biological, sociological, or psychological determinants; based on his experience during his life in the Nazi concentration camps, he believed that a person is “capable of resisting and braving even the worst conditions”. In doing such, a person can detach from situations and themselves, choose an attitude about themselves, and determine their own determinants, thus shaping their own character and becoming responsible for themselves.
Logotherapeutic Views and Treatment
By recognising the purpose of our circumstances, one can master anxiety. Anecdotes about this use of logotherapy are given by New York Times writer Tim Sanders, who explained how he uses its concept to relieve the stress of fellow airline travellers by asking them the purpose of their journey. When he does this, no matter how miserable they are, their whole demeanour changes, and they remain happy throughout the flight. Overall, Frankl believed that the anxious individual does not understand that their anxiety is the result of dealing with a sense of “unfulfilled responsibility” and ultimately a lack of meaning.
Treatment of Neurosis
Frankl cites two neurotic pathogens: hyper-intention, a forced intention toward some end which makes that end unattainable; and hyper-reflection, an excessive attention to oneself which stifles attempts to avoid the neurosis to which one thinks oneself predisposed. Frankl identified anticipatory anxiety, a fear of a given outcome which makes that outcome more likely. To relieve the anticipatory anxiety and treat the resulting neuroses, logotherapy offers paradoxical intention, wherein the patient intends to do the opposite of their hyper-intended goal.
A person, then, who fears (i.e. experiences anticipatory anxiety over) not getting a good night’s sleep may try too hard (that is, hyper-intend) to fall asleep, and this would hinder their ability to do so. A logotherapist would recommend, then, that the person go to bed and intentionally try not to fall asleep. This would relieve the anticipatory anxiety which kept the person awake in the first place, thus allowing them to fall asleep in an acceptable amount of time.
Viktor Frankl believed depression occurred at the psychological, physiological, and spiritual levels. At the psychological level, he believed that feelings of inadequacy stem from undertaking tasks beyond our abilities. At the physiological level, he recognised a “vital low”, which he defined as a “diminishment of physical energy”. Finally, Frankl believed that at the spiritual level, the depressed individual faces tension between who they actually are in relation to what they should be. Frankl refers to this as the gaping abyss. Finally Frankl suggests that if goals seem unreachable, an individual loses a sense of future and thus meaning resulting in depression. Thus logotherapy aims “to change the patient’s attitude toward their disease as well as toward their life as a task”.
Frankl believed that those suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder lack the sense of completion that most other individuals possess. Instead of fighting the tendencies to repeat thoughts or actions, or focusing on changing the individual symptoms of the disease, the therapist should focus on “transform[ing] the neurotic’s attitude toward their neurosis”. Therefore, it is important to recognise that the patient is “not responsible for his obsessional ideas”, but that “he is certainly responsible for his attitude toward these ideas”. Frankl suggested that it is important for the patient to recognise their inclinations toward perfection as fate, and therefore, must learn to accept some degrees of uncertainty. Ultimately, following the premise of logotherapy, the patient must eventually ignore their obsessional thoughts and find meaning in their life despite such thoughts.
Though logotherapy was not intended to deal with severe disorders, Frankl believed that logotherapy could benefit even those suffering from schizophrenia. He recognised the roots of schizophrenia in physiological dysfunction. In this dysfunction, the person with schizophrenia “experiences himself as an object” rather than as a subject. Frankl suggested that a person with schizophrenia could be helped by logotherapy by first being taught to ignore voices and to end persistent self-observation. Then, during this same period, the person with schizophrenia must be led toward meaningful activity, as “even for the schizophrenic there remains that residue of freedom toward fate and toward the disease which man always possesses, no matter how ill he may be, in all situations and at every moment of life, to the very last”.
Terminally Ill Patients
In 1977, Terry Zuehlke and John Watkins conducted a study analysing the effectiveness of logotherapy in treating terminally ill patients. The study’s design used 20 male Veterans Administration volunteers who were randomly assigned to one of two possible treatments – (1) group that received 8 45-minute sessions over a 2-week period and (2) group used as control that received delayed treatment. Each group was tested on 5 scales – the MMPI K Scale, MMPI L Scale, Death Anxiety Scale, Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, and the Purpose of Life Test. The results showed an overall significant difference between the control and treatment groups. While the univariate analyses showed that there were significant group differences in 3/5 of the dependent measures. These results confirm the idea that terminally ill patients can benefit from logotherapy in coping with death.
Forms of Treatment
Ecce Homo is a method used in logotherapy. It requires of the therapist to note the innate strengths that people have and how they have dealt with adversity and suffering in life. Despite everything a person may have gone through, they made the best of their suffering! Hence, Ecce Homo – Behold the Man!
In 1969 Rollo May argued that logotherapy is, in essence, authoritarian. He suggested that Frankl’s therapy presents a plain solution to all of life’s problems, an assertion that would seem to undermine the complexity of human life itself. May contended that if a patient could not find their own meaning, Frankl would provide a goal for his patient. In effect, this would negate the patient’s personal responsibility, thus “diminish[ing] the patient as a person”. Frankl explicitly replied to May’s arguments through a written dialogue, sparked by Rabbi Reuven Bulka’s article “Is Logotherapy Authoritarian?”. Frankl responded that he combined the prescription of medication, if necessary, with logotherapy, to deal with the person’s psychological and emotional reaction to the illness, and highlighted areas of freedom and responsibility, where the person is free to search and to find meaning.
Critical views of the life of logotherapy’s founder and his work assume that Frankl’s religious background and experience of suffering guided his conception of meaning within the boundaries of the person and therefore that logotherapy is founded on Viktor Frankl’s worldview. Many researchers argue that logotherapy is not a “scientific” psychotherapeutic school in the traditional sense but a philosophy of life, a system of values, a secular religion which is not fully coherent and is based on questionable metaphysical premises.
Frankl openly spoke and wrote on religion and psychiatry, throughout his life, and specifically in his last book, Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning (1997). He asserted that every person has a spiritual unconscious, independently of religious views or beliefs, yet Frankl’s conception of the spiritual unconscious does not necessarily entail religiosity. In Frankl’s words: “It is true, Logotherapy, deals with the Logos; it deals with Meaning. Specifically, I see Logotherapy in helping others to see meaning in life. But we cannot “give” meaning to the life of others. And if this is true of meaning per se, how much does it hold for Ultimate Meaning?” The American Psychiatric Association awarded Viktor Frankl the 1985 Oskar Pfister Award (for important contributions to religion and psychiatry).
Since the 1990s, the number of institutes providing education and training in logotherapy continues to increase worldwide. Numerous logotherapeutic concepts have been integrated and applied in different fields, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and burnout prevention. The logotherapeutic concepts of noogenic neurosis and existential crisis were added to the ICD 11 under the name demoralisation crisis, i.e. a construct that features hopelessness, meaninglessness, and existential distress as first described by Frankl in the 1950s. Logotherapy has also been associated with psychosomatic and physiological health benefits. Besides Logotherapy, other meaning-centred psychotherapeutic approaches such as positive psychology and meaning therapy have emerged. Paul Wong’s meaning therapy attempts to translate logotherapy into psychological mechanisms, integrating CBT, positive psychotherapy and the positive psychology research on meaning. Logotherapy is also being applied in the field of oncology and palliative care (William Breitbart). These recent developments introduce Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy to a new generation and extend its impact to new areas of research.
Relational psychoanalysis is a school of psychoanalysis in the United States that emphasizes the role of real and imagined relationships with others in mental disorder and psychotherapy. ‘Relational psychoanalysis is a relatively new and evolving school of psychoanalytic thought considered by its founders to represent a “paradigm shift” in psychoanalysis’.
Relational psychoanalysis began in the 1980s as an attempt to integrate interpersonal psychoanalysis’s emphasis on the detailed exploration of interpersonal interactions with British object relations theory’s ideas about the psychological importance of internalised relationships with other people. Relationalists argue that personality emerges from the matrix of early formative relationships with parents and other figures. Philosophically, relational psychoanalysis is closely allied with social constructionism.
Drives versus Relationships
An important difference between relational theory and traditional psychoanalytic thought is in its theory of motivation, which would ‘assign primary importance to real interpersonal relations, rather than to instinctual drives’. Freudian theory, with a few exceptions, proposes that human beings are motivated by sexual and aggressive drives. These drives are biologically rooted and innate. They are ultimately not shaped by experience.
Relationalists, on the other hand, argue that the primary motivation of the psyche is to be in relationships with others. As a consequence early relationships, usually with primary caregivers, shape one’s expectations about the way in which one’s needs are met. Therefore, desires and urges cannot be separated from the relational contexts in which they arise; motivation is then seen as being determined by the systemic interaction of a person and his or her relational world. Individuals attempt to re-create these early learned relationships in ongoing relationships that may have little or nothing to do with those early relationships. This re-creation of relational patterns serves to satisfy the individuals’ needs in a way that conforms with what they learned as infants. This re-creation is called an enactment.
When treating patients, relational psychoanalysts stress a mixture of waiting and authentic spontaneity. Some relationally oriented psychoanalysts eschew the traditional Freudian emphasis on interpretation and free association, instead emphasising the importance of creating a lively, genuine relationship with the patient. However, many others place a great deal of importance on the Winnicottian concept of “holding” and are far more restrained in their approach, generally giving weight to well formulated interpretations made at what seems to be the proper time. Overall, relational analysts feel that psychotherapy works best when the therapist focuses on establishing a healing relationship with the patient, in addition to focusing on facilitating insight. They believe that in doing so, therapists break patients out of the repetitive patterns of relating to others that they believe maintain psychopathology. Noteworthy too is ‘the emphasis relational psychoanalysis places on the mutual construction of meaning in the analytic relationship’.
Stephen A. Mitchell has been described as the “most influential relational psychoanalyst”. His 1983 book, co-written with Jay Greenberg and called Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory is considered to be the first major work of relational psychoanalysis. Prior work especially by Sabina Spielrein in the 1910s to 1930s is often cited, particularly by Adrienne Harris and others who connect feminism with the field, but as part of the prior Freud/Jung/Spielrein tradition.
Other important relational authors include Neil Altman, Lewis Aron, Hugo Bleichmar, Philip Bromberg, Nancy Chodorow, Susan Coates, Jody Davies, Emmanuel Ghent, Adrienne Harris, Irwin Hirsch, Irwin Z. Hoffman, Karen Maroda, Stuart Pizer, Owen Renik, Ramón Riera, Daniel Schechter, Joyce Slochower, Martha Stark, Ruth Stein, Donnel Stern, Robert Stolorow, Jeremy D. Safran and Jessica Benjamin – the latter pursuing the ‘goal of creating a genuinely feminist and philosophically informed relational psychoanalysis’. A significant historian and philosophical contributor is Philip Cushman.
Psychoanalyst and philosopher Jon Mills has offered a number of substantial criticisms of the relational movement. Mills evidently thinks this “paradigm shift” to relational psychoanalysis is not exclusively due to theoretical differences with classical psychoanalysis but also arises from a certain group mentality and set of interests: “Relational psychoanalysis is an American phenomenon, with a politically powerful and advantageous group of members advocating for conceptual and technical reform” from a professional psychologist group perspective: “most identified relational analysts are psychologists, as are the founding professionals associated with initiating the relational movement”.
From a theoretical perspective, Mills appears to doubt that relational psychoanalysis is as radically new as it is touted to be. In its emphasis on the developmental importance of other people, according to Mills, “relational theory is merely stating the obvious” – picking up on “a point that Freud made explicit throughout his theoretical corpus, which becomes further emphasized more significantly by early object relations therapists through to contemporary self psychologists.” Mills also criticizes the diminishing or even the loss of the significance of the unconscious in relational psychoanalysis, a point he brings up in various parts of his book Conundrums.
Psychoanalyst and historian Henry Zvi Lothane has also criticised some of the central ideas of relational psychoanalysis, from both historical and psychoanalytic perspectives. Historically, Lothane believes relational theorists overstate the non-relational aspects of Freud as ignore its relational aspects. Lothane maintains that, though Freud’s theory of disorder is “monadic,” i.e. focused more or less exclusively on the individual, Freud’s psychoanalytic method and theory of clinical practice is consistently dyadic or relational. From a theoretical perspective, Lothane has criticised the term “relational” in favour of Harry Stack Sullivan’s term “interpersonal”. Lothane developed his concepts of “reciprocal free association” as well as “dramatology” as ways of understanding the interpersonal or relational dimension of psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalyst and philosopher Aner Govrin examines the heavy price psychoanalysis paid for adopting postmodernism as their preferred epistemology. He posits that only analysts who thought they “know the truth,” created classical, interpersonal, self-psychology, ego psychology, Kleinian, Bionian, Fairbairnian, Winiccottian and other schools of thought. While the relational tradition had made extraordinary and positive contributions to psychoanalysis, and its postmodern epistemology is indeed moderate, as a political movement the American relational tradition had unwanted psychological and sociological effects on psychoanalysis. This led to a severe decline in the positive image of knowledge that is crucial for the building of new theories. Led by the relational movement, but influenced by a much broader movement in western philosophy and culture, this impact has greatly influenced international psychoanalysis. It has led not only to the disparagement of the school era but also to the devaluation of any attempt to know the truth.
Adopting a more sympathetic line of criticism, Robin S. Brown suggests that while relational thinking has done much to challenge psychoanalytic dogmatism, excessively emphasizing the formative role of social relations can culminate in its own form of authoritarianism. Brown contends that the relational shift has insufficiently addressed the role of first principles, and that this tendency might be challenged by engaging analytical psychology.
The therapeutic relationship refers to the relationship between a healthcare professional and a client or patient. It is the means by which a therapist and a client hope to engage with each other and effect beneficial change in the client.
In psychoanalysis the therapeutic relationship has been theorised to consist of three parts: the working alliance, transference/countertransference, and the real relationship. Evidence on each component’s unique contribution to the outcome has been gathered, as well as evidence on the interaction between components. In contrast to a social relationship, the focus of the therapeutic relationship is on the client’s needs and goals.
The therapeutic alliance, or the working alliance may be defined as the joining of a client’s reasonable side with a therapist’s working or analysing side. Bordin (1979) conceptualised the working alliance as consisting of three parts: tasks, goals and bond. Tasks are what the therapist and client agree need to be done to reach the client’s goals. Goals are what the client hopes to gain from therapy, based on their presenting concerns. The bond forms from trust and confidence that the tasks will bring the client closer to their goals.
Research on the working alliance suggests that it is a strong predictor of psychotherapy or counselling client outcome. Also, the way in which the working alliance unfolds has been found to be related to client outcomes. Generally, an alliance that experiences a rupture that is repaired is related to better outcomes than an alliance with no ruptures, or an alliance with a rupture that is not repaired. Also, in successful cases of brief therapy, the working alliance has been found to follow a high-low-high pattern over the course of the therapy. Therapeutic alliance has been found to be effective in treating adolescents suffering from PTSD, with the strongest alliances were associated with the greatest improvement in PTSD symptoms. Regardless of other treatment procedures, studies have shown that the degree to which traumatised adolescents feel a connection with their therapist greatly affects how well they do during treatment.
Necessary and Sufficient Conditions
In the Humanistic approach, Carl Rogers identified a number of necessary and sufficient conditions that are required for therapeutic change to take place. These include the three core conditions: congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathy. Rogers (1957; 1959) stated that there are six necessary and sufficient conditions required for therapeutic change:
Therapist–client psychological contact: a relationship between client and therapist must exist, and it must be a relationship in which each person’s perception of the other is important.
Client incongruence: that incongruence exists between the client’s experience and awareness.
Therapist congruence, or genuineness: the therapist is congruent within the therapeutic relationship. The therapist is deeply involved, they are not ‘acting’ and they can draw on their own experiences (self-disclosure) to facilitate the relationship.
Therapist unconditional positive regard: the therapist accepts the client unconditionally, without judgment, disapproval or approval. This facilitates increased self-regard in the client, as they can begin to become aware of experiences in which their view of self-worth was distorted or denied.
Therapist empathic understanding: the therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference. Accurate empathy on the part of the therapist helps the client believe the therapist’s unconditional regard for them.
Client perception: that the client perceives, to at least a minimal degree, the therapist’s unconditional positive regard and empathic understanding.
Transference and Counter-Transference
The concept of therapeutic relationship was described by Freud (1912) as “friendly affectionate feeling” in the form of a positive transference. However, transferences, or more correctly here, the therapist’s ‘counter-transferences’ can also be negative. Today transference (from the client) and counter-transference (from the therapist), is understood as subconsciously associating a person in the present, with a person from a past relationship. For example, you meet a new client who reminds you of a former lover. This would be a counter-transference, in that the therapist is responding to the client with thoughts and feelings attached to a person in a past relationship. Ideally, the therapeutic relationship will start with a positive transference for the therapy to have a good chance of effecting positive therapeutic change.
Operationalisation and Measurement
Several scales have been developed to assess the patient-professional relationship in therapy, including:
Family therapy, also referred to as couple and family therapy, marriage and family therapy, family systems therapy, and family counselling, is a branch of psychotherapy that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. It tends to view change in terms of the systems of interaction between family members.
The different schools of family therapy have in common a belief that, regardless of the origin of the problem, and regardless of whether the clients consider it an “individual” or “family” issue, involving families in solutions often benefits clients. This involvement of families is commonly accomplished by their direct participation in the therapy session. The skills of the family therapist thus include the ability to influence conversations in a way that catalyses the strengths, wisdom, and support of the wider system.
In the field’s early years, many clinicians defined the family in a narrow, traditional manner usually including parents and children. As the field has evolved, the concept of the family is more commonly defined in terms of strongly supportive, long-term roles and relationships between people who may or may not be related by blood or marriage.
The conceptual frameworks developed by family therapists, especially those of family systems theorists, have been applied to a wide range of human behaviour, including organisational dynamics and the study of greatness.
Brief History and Theoretical Frameworks
Formal interventions with families to help individuals and families experiencing various kinds of problems have been a part of many cultures, probably throughout history. These interventions have sometimes involved formal procedures or rituals, and often included the extended family as well as non-kin members of the community (see for example Ho’oponopono). Following the emergence of specialisation in various societies, these interventions were often conducted by particular members of a community – for example, a chief, priest, physician, and so on – usually as an ancillary function.
Family therapy as a distinct professional practice within Western cultures can be argued to have had its origins in the social work movements of the 19th century in the United Kingdom and the United States. As a branch of psychotherapy, its roots can be traced somewhat later to the early 20th century with the emergence of the child guidance movement and marriage counselling. The formal development of family therapy dates from the 1940s and early 1950s with the founding in 1942 of the American Association of Marriage Counsellors (the precursor of the AAMFT), and through the work of various independent clinicians and groups – in the United Kingdom (John Bowlby at the Tavistock Clinic), the United States (Donald deAvila Jackson, John Elderkin Bell, Nathan Ackerman, Christian Midelfort, Theodore Lidz, Lyman Wynne, Murray Bowen, Carl Whitaker, Virginia Satir, Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy), and in Hungary, D.L.P. Liebermann – who began seeing family members together for observation or therapy sessions. There was initially a strong influence from psychoanalysis (most of the early founders of the field had psychoanalytic backgrounds) and social psychiatry, and later from learning theory and behaviour therapy – and significantly, these clinicians began to articulate various theories about the nature and functioning of the family as an entity that was more than a mere aggregation of individuals.
The movement received an important boost starting in the early 1950s through the work of anthropologist Gregory Bateson and colleagues – Jay Haley, Donald D. Jackson, John Weakland, William Fry, and later, Virginia Satir, Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy, Paul Watzlawick and others – at Palo Alto in the United States, who introduced ideas from cybernetics and general systems theory into social psychology and psychotherapy, focusing in particular on the role of communication (refer to Bateson Project). This approach eschewed the traditional focus on individual psychology and historical factors – that involve so-called linear causation and content – and emphasized instead feedback and homeostatic mechanisms and “rules” in here-and-now interactions – so-called circular causation and process – that were thought to maintain or exacerbate problems, whatever the original cause(s). This group was also influenced significantly by the work of US psychiatrist, hypnotherapist, and brief therapist, Milton H. Erickson – especially his innovative use of strategies for change, such as paradoxical directives. The members of the Bateson Project (like the founders of a number of other schools of family therapy, including Carl Whitaker, Murray Bowen, and Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy) had a particular interest in the possible psychosocial causes and treatment of schizophrenia, especially in terms of the putative “meaning” and “function” of signs and symptoms within the family system. The research of psychiatrists and psychoanalysts Lyman Wynne and Theodore Lidz on communication deviance and roles (e.g. pseudo-mutuality, pseudo-hostility, schism and skew) in families of people with schizophrenia also became influential with systems-communications-oriented theorists and therapists. A related theme, applying to dysfunction and psychopathology more generally, was that of the “identified patient” or “presenting problem” as a manifestation of or surrogate for the family’s, or even society’s, problems (refer to Double Bind).
By the mid-1960s, a number of distinct schools of family therapy had emerged. From those groups that were most strongly influenced by cybernetics and systems theory, there came MRI Brief Therapy, and slightly later, strategic therapy, Salvador Minuchin’s Structural Family Therapy and the Milan systems model. Partly in reaction to some aspects of these systemic models, came the experiential approaches of Virginia Satir and Carl Whitaker, which downplayed theoretical constructs, and emphasized subjective experience and unexpressed feelings (including the subconscious), authentic communication, spontaneity, creativity, total therapist engagement, and often included the extended family. Concurrently and somewhat independently, there emerged the various intergenerational therapies of Murray Bowen, Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy, James Framo, and Norman Paul, which present different theories about the intergenerational transmission of health and dysfunction, but which all deal usually with at least three generations of a family (in person or conceptually), either directly in therapy sessions, or via “homework”, “journeys home”, etc. Psychodynamic family therapy – which, more than any other school of family therapy, deals directly with individual psychology and the unconscious in the context of current relationships – continued to develop through a number of groups that were influenced by the ideas and methods of Nathan Ackerman, and also by the British School of Object Relations and John Bowlby’s work on attachment. Multiple-family group therapy, a precursor of psychoeducational family intervention, emerged, in part, as a pragmatic alternative form of intervention – especially as an adjunct to the treatment of serious mental disorders with a significant biological basis, such as schizophrenia – and represented something of a conceptual challenge to some of the “systemic” (and thus potentially “family-blaming”) paradigms of pathogenesis that were implicit in many of the dominant models of family therapy. The late-1960s and early-1970s saw the development of network therapy (which bears some resemblance to traditional practices such as Ho’oponopono) by Ross Speck and Carolyn Attneave, and the emergence of behavioural marital therapy (renamed behavioural couples therapy in the 1990s; see also relationship counselling) and behavioural family therapy as models in their own right.
By the late-1970s, the weight of clinical experience – especially in relation to the treatment of serious mental disorders – had led to some revision of a number of the original models and a moderation of some of the earlier stridency and theoretical purism. There were the beginnings of a general softening of the strict demarcations between schools, with moves toward rapprochement, integration, and eclecticism – although there was, nevertheless, some hardening of positions within some schools. These trends were reflected in and influenced by lively debates within the field and critiques from various sources, including feminism and post-modernism, that reflected in part the cultural and political tenor of the times, and which foreshadowed the emergence (in the 1980s and 1990s) of the various “post-systems” constructivist and social constructionist approaches. While there was still debate within the field about whether, or to what degree, the systemic-constructivist and medical-biological paradigms were necessarily antithetical to each other (refer to Anti-psychiatry; Biopsychosocial model), there was a growing willingness and tendency on the part of family therapists to work in multi-modal clinical partnerships with other members of the helping and medical professions.
From the mid-1980s to the present, the field has been marked by a diversity of approaches that partly reflect the original schools, but which also draw on other theories and methods from individual psychotherapy and elsewhere – these approaches and sources include: brief therapy, structural therapy, constructivist approaches (e.g. Milan systems, post-Milan/collaborative/conversational, reflective), Bring forthism approach (e.g. Dr. Karl Tomm’s IPscope model and Interventive interviewing), solution-focused therapy, narrative therapy, a range of cognitive and behavioural approaches, psychodynamic and object relations approaches, attachment and emotionally focused therapy, intergenerational approaches, network therapy, and multi-systemic therapy (MST). Multicultural, intercultural, and integrative approaches are being developed, with Vincenzo Di Nicola weaving a synthesis of family therapy and transcultural psychiatry in his model of cultural family therapy, A Stranger in the Family: Culture, Families, and Therapy. Many practitioners claim to be “eclectic”, using techniques from several areas, depending upon their own inclinations and/or the needs of the client(s), and there is a growing movement toward a single “generic” family therapy that seeks to incorporate the best of the accumulated knowledge in the field and which can be adapted to many different contexts; however, there are still a significant number of therapists who adhere more or less strictly to a particular, or limited number of, approach(es).
The Liberation Based Healing framework for family therapy offers a complete paradigm shift for working with families while addressing the intersections of race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation and other socio-political identity markers. This theoretical approach and praxis is informed by Critical Pedagogy, Feminism, Critical Race Theory, and Decolonising Theory. This framework necessitates an understanding of the ways Colonisation, Cis-Heteronormativity, Patriarchy, White Supremacy and other systems of domination impact individuals, families and communities and centres the need to disrupt the status quo in how power operates. Traditional Western models of family therapy have historically ignored these dimensions and when white, male privilege has been critiqued, largely by feminist theory practitioners, it has often been to the benefit of middle class, white women’s experiences. While an understanding of intersectionality is of particular significance in working with families with violence, a liberatory framework examines how power, privilege and oppression operate within and across all relationships. Liberatory practices are based on the principles of Critical-Consciousness, Accountability and Empowerment. These principles guide not only the content of the therapeutic work with clients but also the supervisory and training process of therapists. Dr. Rhea Almeida, developed the Cultural Context Model as a way to operationalize these concepts into practice through the integration of culture circles, sponsors, and a socio-educational process within the therapeutic work.
Ideas and methods from family therapy have been influential in psychotherapy generally: a survey of over 2,500 US therapists in 2006 revealed that of the 10 most influential therapists of the previous quarter-century, three were prominent family therapists and that the marital and family systems model was the second most utilised model after cognitive behavioural therapy.
Family therapy uses a range of counselling and other techniques including:
Structural therapy – identifies and re-orders the organisation of the family system.
Strategic therapy – looks at patterns of interactions between family members.
Systemic/Milan therapy – focuses on belief systems.
Narrative therapy – restoring of dominant problem-saturated narrative, emphasis on context, separation of the problem from the person.
Transgenerational therapy – transgenerational transmission of unhelpful patterns of belief and behaviour.
IPscope model and Interventive Interviewing.
The number of sessions depends on the situation, but the average is 5-20 sessions. A family therapist usually meets several members of the family at the same time. This has the advantage of making differences between the ways family members perceive mutual relations as well as interaction patterns in the session apparent both for the therapist and the family. These patterns frequently mirror habitual interaction patterns at home, even though the therapist is now incorporated into the family system. Therapy interventions usually focus on relationship patterns rather than on analysing impulses of the unconscious mind or early childhood trauma of individuals as a Freudian therapist would do – although some schools of family therapy, for example psychodynamic and intergenerational, do consider such individual and historical factors (thus embracing both linear and circular causation) and they may use instruments such as the genogram to help to elucidate the patterns of relationship across generations.
The distinctive feature of family therapy is its perspective and analytical framework rather than the number of people present at a therapy session. Specifically, family therapists are relational therapists: They are generally more interested in what goes on between individuals rather than within one or more individuals, although some family therapists – in particular those who identify as psychodynamic, object relations, intergenerational, or experiential family therapists (EFTs) – tend to be as interested in individuals as in the systems those individuals and their relationships constitute. Depending on the conflicts at issue and the progress of therapy to date, a therapist may focus on analysing specific previous instances of conflict, as by reviewing a past incident and suggesting alternative ways family members might have responded to one another during it, or instead proceed directly to addressing the sources of conflict at a more abstract level, as by pointing out patterns of interaction that the family might have not noticed.
Family therapists tend to be more interested in the maintenance and/or solving of problems rather than in trying to identify a single cause. Some families may perceive cause-effect analyses as attempts to allocate blame to one or more individuals, with the effect that for many families a focus on causation is of little or no clinical utility. It is important to note that a circular way of problem evaluation is used as opposed to a linear route. Using this method, families can be helped by finding patterns of behaviour, what the causes are, and what can be done to better their situation.
Summary of Theories and Techniques
Adlerian family therapy
Also known as “individual psychology”. Sees the person as a whole. Ideas include compensation for feelings of inferiority leading to striving for significance toward a fictional final goal with a private logic. Birth order and mistaken goals are explored to examine mistaken motivations of children and adults in the family constellation.
Individuals are shaped by their experiences with caregivers in the first three years of life. Used as a foundation for Object Relations Theory. The Strange Situation experiment with infants involves a systematic process of leaving a child alone in a room in order to assess the quality of their parental bond.
Psychoanalysis, play therapy
Bowenian family systems therapy
Murray Bowen, Betty Carter, Philip Guerin, Michael Kerr, Thomas Fogarty, Monica McGoldrick, Edwin Friedman, Daniel Papero
Also known as “intergenerational family therapy” (although there are also other schools of intergenerational family therapy). Family members are driven to achieve a balance of internal and external differentiation, causing anxiety, triangulation, and emotional cutoff. Families are affected by nuclear family emotional processes, sibling positions and multigenerational transmission patterns resulting in an undifferentiated family ego mass.
Problems are the result of operant conditioning that reinforces negative behaviours within the family’s interpersonal social exchanges that extinguish desired behaviour and promote incentives toward unwanted behaviours. This can lead to irrational beliefs and a faulty family schema.
Harry Goolishian, Harlene Anderson, Tom Andersen, Lynn Hoffman, Peggy Penn
Individuals form meanings about their experiences within the context of social relationship on a personal and organisational level. Collaborative therapists help families reorganise and dis-solve their perceived problems through a transparent dialogue about inner thoughts with a “not-knowing” stance intended to illicit new meaning through conversation. Collaborative therapy is an approach that avoids a particular theoretical perspective in favour of a client-centred philosophical process.
Dialogical conversation, not knowing, curiosity, being public, reflecting teams
Virginia Satir, John Banmen, Jane Gerber, Maria Gomori
All people are born into a primary survival triad between themselves and their parents where they adopt survival stances to protect their self-worth from threats communicated by words and behaviours of their family members. Experiential therapists are interested in altering the overt and covert messages between family members that affect their body, mind and feelings in order to promote congruence and to validate each person’s inherent self-worth.
Equality, modelling communication, family life chronology, family sculpting, metaphors, family reconstruction
Families are built upon an unconscious network of implicit loyalties between parents and children that can be damaged when these “relational ethics” of fairness, trust, entitlement, mutuality and merit are breached.
Rebalancing, family negotiations, validation, filial debt repayment
Cultural family therapy
Vincenzo Di Nicola Key influences: Celia Falicov, Antonio Ferreira, James Framo, Edwin Friedman, Mara Selvini Palazzoli, Carlos Sluzki, Victor Turner, Michael White
A synthesis of systemic family therapy with cultural psychiatry to create cultural family therapy (CFT). CFT is an interweaving of stories (family predicaments expressed in narratives of family life) and tools (clinical methods for working with and making sense of these stories in cultural context). Integrates and synthesizes systemic therapy and cultural and medical anthropology with narrative therapy.
Conceptual tools for working across cultures – spirals, masks, roles, codes, cultural strategies, bridges, stories, multiple codes (metaphor and somatics), therapy as “story repair”
Sue Johnson, Les Greenberg
Couples and families can develop rigid patterns of interaction based on powerful emotional experiences that hinder emotional engagement and trust. Treatment aims to enhance empathic capabilities of family members by exploring deep-seated habits and modifying emotional cues.
Carl Whitaker, David Keith, Laura Roberto, Walter Kempler, John Warkentin, Thomas Malone, August Napier
Stemming from Gestalt foundations, change and growth occurs through an existential encounter with a therapist who is intentionally “real” and authentic with clients without pretence, often in a playful and sometimes absurd way as a means to foster flexibility in the family and promote individuation.
Target population adolescents with conduct and behavioural problems. Based on schema theory. Integrate mindfulness to focus family on the present. Validate core beliefs based on past experiences. Offer viable alternative responses. Treatment is based on case conceptualisation process; validate and clarify core beliefs, fears, triggers, and behaviours. Redirect behaviour by anticipating triggers and realigning beliefs and fears.
He developed an object relations approach to intergenerational and family-of-origin therapy.
Working with several generations of the family, family-of-origin approach with families in therapy and with trainees
Feminist family therapy
Sandra Bem Marianne Walters
Complications from social and political disparity between genders are identified as underlying causes of conflict within a family system. Therapists are encouraged to be aware of these influences in order to avoid perpetuating hidden oppression, biases and cultural stereotypes and to model an egalitarian perspective of healthy family relationships.
Demystifying, modelling, equality, personal accountability
Milan systemic family therapy
Luigi Boscolo, Gianfranco Cecchin, Mara Selvini Palazzoli, Giuliana Prata
A practical attempt by the “Milan Group” to establish therapeutic techniques based on Gregory Bateson’s cybernetics that disrupts unseen systemic patterns of control and games between family members by challenging erroneous family beliefs and reworking the family’s linguistic assumptions.
Gregory Bateson, Milton Erickson, Heinz von Foerster
Established by the Mental Research Institute (MRI) as a synthesis of ideas from multiple theorists in order to interrupt misguided attempts by families to create first and second order change by persisting with “more of the same”, mixed signals from unclear metacommunication and paradoxical double-bind messages.
Reframing, prescribing the symptom, relabelling, restraining (going slow), Bellac Ploy
Michael White, David Epston
People use stories to make sense of their experience and to establish their identity as a social and political constructs based on local knowledge. Narrative therapists avoid marginalising their clients by positioning themselves as a co-editor of their reality with the idea that “the person is not the problem, but the problem is the problem.”
By applying the strategies of Freudian psychoanalysis to the family system therapists can gain insight into the interlocking psychopathologies of the family members and seek to improve complementarity.
Kim Insoo Berg, Steve de Shazer, William O’Hanlon, Michelle Weiner-Davis, Paul Watzlawick
The inevitable onset of constant change leads to negative interpretations of the past and language that shapes the meaning of an individual’s situation, diminishing their hope and causing them to overlook their own strengths and resources.
Salvador Minuchin, Harry Aponte, Charles Fishman, Braulio Montalvo
Family problems arise from maladaptive boundaries and subsystems that are created within the overall family system of rules and rituals that governs their interactions.
Joining, family mapping, hypothesizing, re-enactments, reframing, unbalancing
Family therapy has an evolving evidence base. A summary of current evidence is available via the UK’s Association of Family Therapy. Evaluation and outcome studies can also be found on the Family Therapy and Systemic Research Centre website. The website also includes quantitative and qualitative research studies of many aspects of family therapy.
According to a 2004 French government study conducted by French Institute of Health and Medical Research, family and couples therapy was the second most effective therapy after Cognitive behavioural therapy. The study used meta-analysis of over a hundred secondary studies to find some level of effectiveness that was either “proven” or “presumed” to exist. Of the treatments studied, family therapy was presumed or proven effective at treating schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anorexia and alcohol dependency.
Concerns and Criticism
In a 1999 address to the Coalition of Marriage, Family and Couples Education conference in Washington, D.C., University of Minnesota Professor William Doherty said:
“I take no joy in being a whistle blower, but it’s time. I am a committed marriage and family therapist, having practiced this form of therapy since 1977. I train marriage and family therapists. I believe that marriage therapy can be very helpful in the hands of therapists who are committed to the profession and the practice. But there are a lot of problems out there with the practice of therapy – a lot of problems.”
Doherty suggested questions prospective clients should ask a therapist before beginning treatment:
“Can you describe your background and training in marital therapy?”
“What is your attitude toward salvaging a troubled marriage versus helping couples break up?”
“What is your approach when one partner is seriously considering ending the marriage and the other wants to save it?”
“What percentage of your practice is marital therapy?”
“Of the couples you treat, what percentage would you say work out enough of their problems to stay married with a reasonable amount of satisfaction with the relationship.” “What percentage break up while they are seeing you?” “What percentage do not improve?” “What do you think makes the differences in these results?”
Licensing and Degrees
Family therapy practitioners come from a range of professional backgrounds, and some are specifically qualified or licensed/registered in family therapy (licensing is not required in some jurisdictions and requirements vary from place to place). In the United Kingdom, family therapists will have a prior relevant professional training in one of the helping professions usually psychologists, psychotherapists, or counsellors who have done further training in family therapy, either a diploma or an M.Sc. In the United States there is a specific degree and license as a marriage and family therapist; however, psychologists, nurses, psychotherapists, social workers, or counsellors, and other licensed mental health professionals may practice family therapy. In the UK, family therapists who have completed a four-year qualifying programme of study (MSc) are eligible to register with the professional body the Association of Family Therapy (AFT), and with the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).
A master’s degree is required to work as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in some American states. Most commonly, MFTs will first earn a M.S. or M.A. degree in marriage and family therapy, counselling, psychology, family studies, or social work. After graduation, prospective MFTs work as interns under the supervision of a licensed professional and are referred to as an MFTi.
Prior to 1999 in California, counsellors who specialised in this area were called Marriage, Family and Child Counsellors. Today, they are known as Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT), and work variously in private practice, in clinical settings such as hospitals, institutions, or counselling organisations.
Marriage and family therapists in the United States and Canada often seek degrees from accredited Masters or Doctoral programmes recognised by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), a division of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.
Requirements vary, but in most states about 3,000 hours of supervised work as an intern are needed to sit for a licensing exam. MFTs must be licensed by the state to practice. Only after completing their education and internship and passing the state licensing exam can a person call themselves a Marital and Family Therapist and work unsupervised.
License restrictions can vary considerably from state to state. Contact information about licensing boards in the United States are provided by the Association of Marital and Family Regulatory Boards.
There have been concerns raised within the profession about the fact that specialist training in couples therapy – as distinct from family therapy in general – is not required to gain a license as an MFT or membership of the main professional body, the AAMFT.
Values and Ethics
Since issues of interpersonal conflict, power, control, values, and ethics are often more pronounced in relationship therapy than in individual therapy, there has been debate within the profession about the different values that are implicit in the various theoretical models of therapy and the role of the therapist’s own values in the therapeutic process, and how prospective clients should best go about finding a therapist whose values and objectives are most consistent with their own. An early paper on ethics in family therapy written by Vincenzo Di Nicola in consultation with a bioethicist asked basic questions about whether strategic interventions “mean what they say” and if it is ethical to invent opinions offered to families about the treatment process, such as statements saying that half of the treatment team believes one thing and half believes another. Specific issues that have emerged have included an increasing questioning of the longstanding notion of therapeutic neutrality, a concern with questions of justice and self-determination, connectedness and independence, “functioning” versus “authenticity”, and questions about the degree of the therapist’s “pro-marriage/family” versus “pro-individual” commitment.
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy requires members to adhere to a “Code of Ethics”, including a commitment to “continue therapeutic relationships only so long as it is reasonably clear that clients are benefiting from the relationship.”
Founders and Key Influences
Some key developers of family therapy are:
Alfred Adler (individual psychology).
Nathan Ackerman (psychoanalytic).
Tom Andersen (reflecting practices and dialogues about dialogues).
Harlene Anderson (postmodern collaborative therapy and Collaborative Language Systems).
Maurizio Andolfi (interactional, integrative, multigenerational, and relational family therapy).
Harry J Aponte (Person-of-the-Therapist).
Jack A. Apsche (family mode deactivation therapy, FMDT).
Gregory Bateson (1904–1980) (cybernetics, systems theory).
Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy (contextual therapy, intergenerational, relational ethics).
Murray Bowen (systems theory, intergenerational).
Steve de Shazer (solution focused therapy).
Vincenzo Di Nicola (cultural family therapy).
Milton H. Erickson (hypnotherapy, strategic therapy, brief therapy).
Richard Fisch (brief therapy, strategic therapy).
James Framo (object relations theory, intergenerational, family-of-origin therapy).
Edwin Friedman (family process in religious congregations).
Harry Goolishian (postmodern collaborative therapy and collaborative language systems).
John Gottman (marriage).
Robert-Jay Green (LGBT, cross-cultural issues).
Douglas Haldane (Attachment-based couple therapist).
The Bateson Project (1953-1963) was the name given to a ground-breaking collaboration organised by Gregory Bateson which was responsible for some of the most important papers and innovations in communication and psychotherapy in the 1950s and early 1960s. Its other members were Donald deAvila Jackson, Jay Haley, John Weakland, and Bill Fry.
Perhaps their most famous and influential publication was Towards a Theory of Schizophrenia (1956), which introduced the concept of the Double Bind, and helped found Family Therapy.
One of the project’s first locations was the Menlo Park VA Hospital, which was chosen because of Bateson’s previous work there as an ethnologist. The initial research, which was funded by a Rockefeller grant, focused on “strange communication” and nonsensical language among the patients of the institution who were suffering from schizophrenia. The group studied this within the context of double bind communication in family dynamics.
Medical psychology, or Medicopsychology, is the application of psychological principles to the practice of medicine, primarily drug-oriented, for both physical and mental disorders.
The American Society for the Advancement of Pharmacotherapy defines medical psychology as “that branch of psychology integrating somatic and psychotherapeutic modalities into the management of mental illness and emotional, cognitive, behavioral and substance use disorders”.
A medical psychologist who holds prescriptive authority for specific psychiatric medications and other pharmaceutical drugs must first obtain specific qualifications in Psychopharmacology. A trained medical psychologist, or psychopharmacologist who has prescriptive authority is equated with a mid-level provider who has the authority to prescribe psychotropic medication such as antidepressants for neurotic disorders. However, a medical psychologist does not automatically equate with a psychologist who has the authority to prescribe medication. In fact, most medical psychologists do not prescribe medication and do not have the authority to do so.
Medical psychologists apply psychological theories, scientific psychological findings, and techniques of psychotherapy, behaviour modification, cognitive, interpersonal, family, and life-style therapy to improve the psychological and physical health of the patient. Psychologists with post doctoral specialty training as medical psychologists are the practitioners with refined skills in clinical psychology, health psychology, behavioural medicine, psychopharmacology, and medical science. Highly qualified and post graduate specialised doctors are trained for service in primary care centres, hospitals, residential care centres, and long-term care facilities and in multidisciplinary collaboration and team treatment.
Medical Psychology Specialty
The field of medical psychology may include pre-doctoral training in the disciplines of health psychology, rehabilitation psychology, pediatric psychology, neuropsychology, and clinical psychopharmacology, as well as sub-specialties in pain management, primary care psychology, and hospital-based (or medical school-based) psychology as the foundation psychological training to qualify for proceeding to required post-doctoral specialty training to qualify to become a Diplomate/Specialist in Medical Psychology. To be a Specialist in Medical Psychology a psychologist must hold Board Certification from the American Board of Medical Psychology which requires a doctorate degree in psychology, a license to practice psychology, a post doctorate graduate degree or acceptable post doctoral didactic training, a residency in medical psychology, submission of a work product for examination, a written and oral examination by the American Board of Medical Psychology. The American Board of Medical Psychology maintains a distinction between specialists and psychopharmacological psychologists or those interested in practicing one of the related psychological disciplines in primary care centres. The term Medical Psychologists is not an umbrella term, and many other specialties in psychology such as healthcare psychology, embracing the biopsychosocial paradigm of mental/physical health and extending that paradigm to clinical practice through research and the application of evidenced-based diagnostic and treatment procedures are akin to the specialty and are prepared to practice in Integrated and Primary Care Settings.
Adopting the biopsychosocial paradigm, the field of medical psychology has recognised the Cartesian assumption that the body and mind are separate entities is inadequate, representing as it does an arbitrary dichotomy that works to the detriment of healthcare. The biopsychosocial approach reflects the concept that the psychology of an individual cannot be understood without reference to that individual’s social environment. For the medical psychologist, the medical model of disease cannot in itself explain complex health concerns any more than a strict psychosocial explanation of mental and physical health can in itself be comprehensive.
Medical psychologists and some psychopharmacologists are trained and equipped to modify physical disease states and the actual cytoarchitecture and functioning of the central nervous and related systems using psychological and pharmacological techniques (when allowed by statute), and to provide prevention for the progression of disease having to do with poor personal and life-style choices and conceptualisation, behavioural patterns, and chronic exposure to the effects of negative thinking, choosing, attitudes, and negative contexts. The specialty of medical psychology includes training in psychopharmacology and in states providing statutory authority may prescribe psychoactive substances as one technique in a larger treatment plan which includes psychological interventions. The medical psychologists and psychopharmacologists who serve in states that have not yet modernised their psychology prescribing laws may evaluate patients and recommend appropriate psychopharmacological techniques in collaboration with a state authorised prescriber. Medical psychologists and psychopharmacologists who are not Board Certified strive to integrate the major components of an individual’s psychological, biological, and social functioning and are designed to contribute to that person’s well-being in a way that respects the natural interface among these components. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts when it comes to providing comprehensive and sensible behavioural healthcare and the medical psychologist is uniquely qualified to collaborate with physicians that are treating the patients physical illnesses.
The Academy of Medical Psychology defines medical psychology as a specialty trained at the post doctoral level and designed to deliver advanced diagnostic and clinical interventions in Medical and Healthcare Facilities utilising the knowledge and skills of clinical psychology, health psychology, behavioural medicine, psychopharmacology and basic medical science. The Academy of Medical Psychology makes a distinction between the Psychopharmacologist who is a psychologist with advanced training in psychopharmacology and may prescribe medicine or consult with physician or nurse practitioner prescribers to diagnose mental illness and select and recommend appropriate psychoactive medicines, and the Medical Psychologists who are prepared to do the psychopharmacology consulting or prescribing, but also must have training which prepares them for functioning with Behavioural and Lifestyle components of physical disease and functioning in or in consultation with multidisciplinary healthcare teams in Primary Care Centres or Community Hospitals in addition to traditional roles in the treatment of mental illness and substance abuse disorders. The specialty of Medical Psychology and this distinction from Psychopharmacologist is recognised by the National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers (the psychology national practitioner association; see http://www.nappp.org).
A specialty of medical psychology has established a specialty board certification, American Board of Medical Psychology and an Academy of Medical Psychology (www.amphome.org) requiring a doctorate degree in psychology and extensive post doctoral training in the specialty and the passage of an oral or written examination.
Although the Academy of Medical Psychology defines medical psychology as a “specialty” and has established a “specialty board certification,” and is recognised by the national psychology practitioner association (www.nappp.org) there is a split in national psychology associations between NAPPP and APA and the American Psychological Association and the National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers do not currently recognise the same specialties with the APA being a group that represents scientists, academics, and practitioners (as a minority) and NAPPP being an organization that represents only practitioners. However, Louisiana, having a unique to that state definition of medical psychology does recognise the national distinction between Medical Psychology as a Specialty and a psychopharmacology proficiency (See APA proficiency in psychopharmacology) and restricts the term and practice of medical psychology by statute (the Medical Psychology Practice Act) as a “profession of the health sciences” with prescriptive authority. It is equally important to note than the American Psychological Association does not recognise that the term medical psychology has, as a prerequisite, nor should the term be equated with having, prescriptive authority and has established psychology post doctoral prescribing medicines as “a proficiency in psychopharmacology”.
In 2006, the American Psychological Association (APA) recommended that the education and training of psychologists, who are specifically pursuing one of several prerequisites for prescribing medication, integrate instruction in the biological sciences, clinical medicine and pharmacology into a formalised programme of postdoctoral education. In 2009, the National Alliance of Professional Providers in Psychology recognised the education and training specified by the American Board of Medical Psychology (www.amphome.org; ABMP) and the Academy of Medical Psychology as the approved standards for post graduate training and examination and qualifications in the nationally recognised specialty in Medical Psychology. Since then numerous hospitals, primary care centres, and other health facilities have recognised the ABMP standards and qualifications for privileges in healthcare facilities and verification of specialty status.
The following Clinical Competencies are identified as essential in the education and training of psychologists, wishing to pursue prescriptive authority. These recommended prerequisites are not required or specifically recommended by APA for the training and education of medical psychologists not pursuing prerequisites for prescribing medication:
Physical Assessment and Laboratory Exams: physical assessment, laboratory and radiological assessment, medical terminology.
Clinical Medicine and Pathophysiology: pathophysiology with emphasis on the principal physiological systems, clinical medicine, differential diagnosis, clinical correlation and case studies, chemical dependency, chronic pain management.
Clinical and Research Pharmacology and Psychopharmacology: pharmacology, clinical pharmacology, pharmacogenetics, psychopharmacology, developmental psychopharmacology.
Clinical Pharmacotherapeutics: professional, ethical and legal issues, combined therapies and their interactions, computer-based aids to practice, pharmacoepidemiology.
Research: methodology and design of psychopharmacology research, interpretation and evaluation, FDA drug development and other regulatory processes.
The 2006 APA recommendations also include supervised clinical experience intended to integrate the above seven knowledge domains and assess competencies in skills and applied knowledge.
The national psychology practitioner association (NAPPP; http://www.nappp.org) and top national certifying body (Academy of Medical Psychology; http://www.amphome.org) have established the national training, examination, and specialty practice criterion and guidelines in the specialty of Medical Psychology and have established a national journal in the specialty. Such certifying bodies, view psychopharmacology training (either to prescribe or consult) as one component of the training of a specialist in Medical Psychology, but recognise that training and specialised skills in other aspects of the treatment of behavioural aspects of medical illness, and mental illness affecting physical illness is essential to practice at the specialty level in Medical Psychology. The Louisiana Academy of Medical Psychology (LAMP), currently the largest organisation of psychologists with prescriptive authority in the world and the only organization representing practitioners of medical psychology in Louisiana as defined by Louisiana statute within any jurisdiction in the United States, no longer recognises the Academy of Medical Psychology as an adequate certifying body for its practitioners, and its members have resigned from the Academy of Medical Psychology en masse. Similarly, virtually all members of LAMP have also resigned from the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) after many LPA members uncovered that the LAMP’s prescriptive authority movement covertly came to an agreement with Louisiana’s medical board to transfer the entire practice of psychology for psychologists with prescriptive authority to the medical board. Louisiana is the only state in which the practice of psychology, including psychological testing, psychotherapy, diagnosis, and treatment for some psychologists (i.e. medical psychologists) is regulated by a medical board.
Person-centred therapy, also known as person-centred psychotherapy, person-centred counselling, client-centred therapy and Rogerian psychotherapy, is a form of psychotherapy developed by psychologist Carl Rogers beginning in the 1940s and extending into the 1980s. Person-centred therapy seeks to facilitate a client’s self-actualising tendency, “an inbuilt proclivity toward growth and fulfilment”, via acceptance (unconditional positive regard), therapist congruence (genuineness), and empathic understanding.
It is one of the most influential and fundamental modalities of treatment in modern psychological practice, and is applied almost universally in modern psychotherapy. However, it is rarely used on its own; typically it is combined with other forms of therapy.
Person-centred therapy, now considered a founding work in the humanistic school of psychotherapies, began with Carl Rogers, and is recognised as one of the major psychotherapy “schools” (theoretical orientations),[clarification needed] along with psychodynamic psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, classical Adlerian psychology, cognitive behavioural therapy, existential therapy, and others.
Rogers affirmed individual personal experience as the basis and standard for living and therapeutic effect. This emphasis contrasts with the dispassionate position which may be intended in other therapies, particularly the behavioural therapies. Living in the present rather than the past or future, with organismic trust, naturalistic faith in one’s own thoughts and the accuracy in one’s feelings, and a responsible acknowledgment of one’s freedom, with a view toward participating fully in our world, contributing to other peoples’ lives, are hallmarks of Rogers’ person-centred therapy. Rogers also claimed that the therapeutic process is essentially the accomplishments made by the client. The client having already progressed further along in their growth and maturation development, only progresses further with the aid of a psychologically favoured environment.
Although client-centred therapy has been criticised by behaviourists for lacking structure and by psychoanalysts for actually providing a conditional relationship, it has been shown to be an effective treatment.
What is Required for Therapeutic Change?
Rogers (1957; 1959) stated that there are six necessary and sufficient conditions required for therapeutic change:
Therapist-client psychological contact: a relationship between client and therapist must exist, and it must be a relationship in which each person’s perception of the other is important.
Client incongruence: that in-congruence exists between the client’s experience and awareness.
Therapist congruence, or genuineness: the therapist is congruent within the therapeutic relationship. The therapist is deeply involved – they are not ‘acting’ – and they can draw on their own experiences (self-disclosure) to facilitate the relationship.
Therapist unconditional positive regard: the therapist accepts the client unconditionally, without judgment, disapproval or approval. This facilitates increased self-regard in the client, as they can begin to become aware of experiences in which their view of self-worth was distorted or denied.
Therapist empathic understanding: the therapist experiences an empathic understanding of the client’s internal frame of reference. Accurate empathy on the part of the therapist helps the client believe the therapist’s unconditional regard for them.
Client perception: that the client perceives, to at least a minimal degree, the therapist’s unconditional positive regard and empathic understanding.
It is believed that the most important factor in successful therapy is the relational climate created by the therapist’s attitude to their client. The therapist’s attitude is defined by the three conditions focused on the therapist, which are often called the core conditions (3, 4, and 5 of the above six conditions):
Congruence: the willingness to transparently relate to clients without hiding behind a professional or personal façade.
Unconditional positive regard: the therapist offers an acceptance and prizing for their client for who he or she is without conveying disapproving feelings, actions or characteristics and demonstrating a willingness to attentively listen without interruption, judgement or giving advice.
Empathy: the therapist communicates their desire to understand and appreciate their client’s perspective.
Rogers believed that a therapist who embodies the three critical and reflexive attitudes (the three core conditions) will help liberate their client to more confidently express their true feelings without fear of judgement. To achieve this, the client-centred therapist carefully avoids directly challenging their client’s way of communicating themselves in the session in order to enable a deeper exploration of the issues most intimate to them and free from external referencing. Rogers was not prescriptive in telling his clients what to do, but believed that the answers to the clients’ questions were within the client and not the therapist. Accordingly, the therapists’ role was to create a facilitative, empathic environment wherein the client could discover the answers for him or herself.
Open Dialogue is an alternative approach for treating psychosis as well as other mental health disorders developed in the 1980s in Finland by Yrjö Alanen and his collaborators.
Open dialogue interventions are currently being trialed in several other countries including Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Key principles of the open dialogue method include: the participation of friends and family, responding to the client’s utterances (which may seem nonsensical in the case of pyschosis), trying to make meaning of what a client has to say, and “tolerating uncertainty”.
In a paper illustrating the Open dialogue method Seikkula, Alakar and Aaltonen postulate that “from the social constructionist point of view, psychosis can be seen as one way of dealing with terrifying experience in one’s life that do not have language other than the one of hallucinations and delusions” and that “psychotic reactions should be seen [as] attempts to make sense of one’s experiences that are so heavy that they have made it impossible to construct a rational spoken narrative” arguing that people may talk about such experiences in metaphor.
They offer a model that “psychotic reactions greatly resemble traumatic experiences” with experiences of victimisation “not being stored in the part of the memory system that promotes sense-making”. Postulating that “an open dialogue, without any pre-planned themes or forms seems to be important in enabling the construction of a new language in which to express difficult events in one’s life.”
This understanding differs radically from common psychiatric models of psychosis that view it as being caused by a biological process in the brain, such as the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia.
A systematic review of academic publications on the topic in 2018 concluded that: “most studies were highly biased and of low quality” and that “further studies are needed in a real-world setting to explore how and why [open dialogue] works.”