A Short Introduction to Psychotherapy (Short Introductions by Christine Lister-Ford

By Christine Lister-Ford

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1951/1990) was published. The goals of gestalt therapy are based in phenomenology, focusing on raising awareness, enlarging choice and facilitating the client to make full contact with themselves and the environment. There is no focus on change or problem solving; rather the view is that by focusing on ‘what is’, the client inevitably becomes aware of alternatives, which he or she is then free to choose (Beisser, 1970). Here we can see the humanistic principle that human beings are self-regulating organisms with an inbuilt movement towards development and the meeting of present needs.

Psychotherapy integration The evolution of psychotherapy has been characterised by the emergence of widely differing theories, often associated with key figures or founders of the approach in question. Alongside this process of forging new theory, since as early as 1936 (Rosenzweig, 1936), there has been an interest in the bringing together of different psychotherapeutic approaches. Arkowitz (1991, 1992) in the first volume of the Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, identifies three kinds of integration: theoretical integration, which has primarily focused on the integration of psychodynamic and behavioural psychotherapy theory (Dollard and Miller, 1950; Wachtel, 1977); the ‘common factors approach’, involving the identification across the range of psychotherapies of common factors that are ‘most strongly associated with positive therapeutic outcome’ (Arkowitz, 1992: 275); and technical eclecticism, which is based on a pragmatic, atheoretical attempt to identify the psychotherapeutic techniques most suited to particular presenting problems (for example Lazarus’ Multimodal Therapy (Lazarus, 1967)).

As we have seen, the history of psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy has involved many divergences and developments that, in their day, were as radical as the development of the humanistic psychotherapies. Key ideas such as the role of real experience in the development of psychological problems, and the curative importance of the actual here-and-now contact between therapist and client, were identified as significant by these psychoanalysts. These clinical ideas, together with a number of philosophical principles, are the defining features across the whole range of humanistic therapies.

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