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

By Christine Lister-Ford

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The problem with the idea that positive reinforcement results in increased behaviour is that there are many examples of people doing things where the results are not particularly pleasurable. To explain this behaviourists developed the idea of habituation. We repeat behaviour when we experience some sort of gain from it. If an overly anxious person experiences a sense of security through realising their front door is locked they might start to double-check that their front door is locked to encourage a sense of security.

He identified two modes of relating, both of which are essential to life: the contactful and authentic ‘I–thou’ relationship, and the practical, goal-directed ‘I–it’ relationship (Buber, 1923/2004). Carl Rogers and person-centred psychotherapy Humanistic psychotherapy became more established through Rogers’ work in the United States from the 1930s onward. Both Adler and Rank were involved in the child guidance movement at that time, and it is within this field, and influenced by Rank (Cain and Seeman, 2001), that Rogers began to develop his ‘Clientcentred therapy’.

From a humanistic perspective people are feeling, thinking and acting entities with equal importance attached to all three processes. Also spiritual dimensions of human experience are incorporated into this conceptualisation of people. From the cradle to the grave people are engaged in making meaning of their experience and using this meaning to realise their potential. A recent very important development in humanistic psychotherapy is the emergence of integrative psychotherapy (see Chapter 1).

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