Chapter 15

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Chapter 15

Therapies:  Techniques for Alleviating Mental Disorders


The use of psychological techniques to treat emotional, behavioral, and interpersonal problems

There are hundreds of types of therapy

In contrast to (or used in conjunction with) psychotherapies are biomedical therapies: involve the use of medication or other medical treatments to treat the symptoms of psychological disorders

Psychoanalytic Therapy

Form of therapy developed by Sigmund Freud which aims to uncover unconscious impulses, anxieties and conflicts

Used techniques to explore the unconscious

free association

examining resistance

dream interpretation



Humanistic Therapies

Focus on conscious thoughts, feelings and experiences and emphasize human potential, self-awareness and freedom of choice

Client Centered Therapy: therapist is nondirective and client directs the focus of each therapy session

if therapist is genuine, has unconditional positive regard and empathetic understanding for the client, positive change is likely to occur

developed by Carl Rogers

client moves toward self-actualization

Behavior Therapy

Uses the principles of learning theories to directly change problem behaviors

Focuses on current behaviors

Changes behavior, not personality

Classical Conditioning

Systematic Desensitization


Operant Conditioning

reinforcement and extinction, token economy, observational learning

Cognitive Therapies

Based on the assumption that psychological problems are based on maladaptive thinking patterns

Rational Emotive Therapy

developed by Albert Ellis (1950s)

Focuses on changing client’s irrational beliefs

ABC Model

Activating event -> Beliefs -> Consequences

therapy is focused on disputing (disproving) irrational beleifs

Cognitive Therapies II

Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy (1979)

Focuses on changes client’s unrealistic beliefs

Developed and used to treat depression

Similar to RET, except that view is that psychological problems are caused by distorted thinking and unrealistic beliefs

beliefs and thoughts are shaped by negative cognitive biases

therapy involves changing automatic thoughts

Group Therapy

Involves one or more therapists working with several people at the same time

therapist can see the client interact with others

virtually any therapeutic approach can be used in group therapy

cost effective

allows group members to support and encourage one another - and give each other advice

self-help groups and support groups are typically not conducted by professional therapists

Family Therapy

Focuses on altering and improving the ongoing interactions among family members

treats the family as a dynamic system, in which each members actions affect all other members

Aimed at exploring unhealthy patterns of interaction and examining the roles the each person plays within the family

Often started to improve the effectiveness of psychotherapy for an individual family member

Can alleviate conflict between family members

Couples Therapy

Therapy designed to help couples improve the quality of their relationships

also called "marital" therapy

problems relating to communication are the primary cause of marital problems

The number one reason for a successful marriage listed by couples whose marriages had lasted 15 or more years: My spouse is my best friend

Does Psychotherapy Work?


Eyesnck (1952) research suggested that about 67% of people improve whether they receive therapy or not

Hundreds of studies disprove Eyesnck’s research

The more treatment people receive, the more they improve, the fewer symptoms they have and the less distress they report

When Should You Seek Therapy?

If a psychological problem is causing you serious emotional discomfort

If a problem you have had suddenly gets worse

If a minor psychological problem lasts a long time

If you are continually disturbed by a traumatic event

If you constantly think about your weight or engage in binge-purge cycles

If you ever hear voices telling you what to do or feel that someone or some force is controlling your thoughts or behavior

Biologically Based Therapies

Drug Therapy

the pharmacological revolution (1955)

Antipsychotic Drugs: reduce psychotic symptoms

block dopamine receptors

may produce tardive dyskinesia: loss of muscle control

Antidepressant Drugs: reduce depression

tricyclics, SSRIs and MAO inhibitors

often reduce reuptake of serotonin and norepinehprine

Lithium: antidepressant for bipolar disorder

Antianxiety Durgs: minor tranquilizers

Biologically Based Therapies II

Electroconvulsive Therapy: Administration of strong electric shocks to the brain to decrease symptoms of depression

Psychosurgery: brain operations designed to change abnormal behavior

early surgeries were drastic and often increased abnormal behavior

Preventing Psychological Disorders

Primary Prevention: efforts to prevent new problems from occurring

Secondary Prevention: efforts to detect problems early, before they become severe

Tertiary Prevention: efforts to decrease long term harm due to psychological disorders