Therapy often seems the holy grail of psychology, the almost magical cure for distress and seemingly insurmountable problems of everyone, even including Tony Soprano, a fictional character in an HBO series. In real life, doing treatment is sometimes rewarding and sometimes arduous and not rewarding. Occasionally it is terrifying, when lives are at risk. Treating borderline clients, for instance, can make long-distance trucking look like a sensible career change.
In a general psychology class, therapy is best organized according to schools. A wit said that somehow patients of Freud always dream Freudian dreams, and patients of Jung dream Jungian dreams. I suppose a client of Skinner would dream of rats… If a clinician spends a decade getting a certificate from an analytic institute, that individual probably has a strong allegiance, as well a huge financial and professional investment in that school, so perhaps his or her clients humor the therapists or unconsciously cooperate. There is also self-selection, since most people are recommended to a clinician or at least checked out before the client goes to the first session. Even Carl Rogers, who believed he was practicing nondirective treatment, admitted after viewing videos of his sessions that a therapist’s interest and responses can shape the client’s productions in a therapy session.
When I was a newly-minted social worker, my interest in Behavior Therapy upset some of my supervisors. I loaned one supervisor a book describing some behavioral treatment approaches. She took it home, misplaced it and forgot all about it. When I asked for my book back months later she was certain she did not have it. I gently insisted that she check at home. She was very embarrassed to find it on her bookshelf.
This chapter will follow the three schools approach, with important additions: the family therapists and the cognitive behavioral therapists. The latter carried the behavioral school beyond animal studies and acknowledged that internal cognitive processes play an important part in our functioning.
The principal schools of therapy which you must know thoroughly for this course are:
In addition, Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Family Therapy will be discussed briefly.