Thought Focused Treatments

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Thought-Focused Treatments

Different approaches to therapy exist. Understanding the different approaches can help clinicians offer better interventions based on the nature of the problem and the desired outcome. Two main approached to therapy exist: psychoanalytical and thought-focused treatments. Thought-focused treatment approaches developed as psychologists began to challenge the practices of psychoanalytical treatments. Differences in beliefs in the interaction of cognition, emotions, and behavior of humans, therapy process, and therapeutic interventions exist between psychoanalytical and thought-process treatments. The main goal of psychoanalytical treatment is to achieve the best equilibrium possible for the functioning of the ego, which is ruled by the reality principle (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2010). The focus of the psychoanalytical treatment approach is on the clinician listening to clients talk about their past in order to look for significant events that may be causing problems in the lives of clients. Clinicians who use psychoanalysis believe that past events, especially those from childhood, and unconscious feelings have an impact in the behavior of the clients and in their mental health. Psychoanalysis focuses on emotions rather than cognitions. In this approach, the client does most of the talking, but the clinician actively guides the therapy session while maintaining a non-judgmental and empathetic attitude towards the client. Clinicians do not display their personality in order to allow transference to occur. Psychoanalytical treatment is a long-term form of therapy usually lasting for more than two years. The main goal of thought-focused treatment systems is to help clients become aware of and modify their thoughts in order to change their feelings and actions (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2010). The focus of thought-focused treatment approaches is on the clinician listening to clients talk about a problem they are presently experiencing in order to help them analyze and modify their cognitions. In thought-focused treatments emphasis is placed on cognitions rather than emotions. In a therapy session, the client sits facing the clinician in order to engage in active communication. In thought-focused treatments, a collaborative relationship exists between the client and the clinician. In this treatment approach, clinicians teach clients to “identify, dispute, and modify irrational beliefs” (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2010, p. 257) as well as “recognize and correct errors in their information-processing system” (Seligman & Reichenberg, 2010, p. 277). Clients learn skills they can continue to apply in their lives when they are no longer in therapy sessions. Clients visit the clinician as often as necessary; however, when compared to psychoanalytic therapies, thought-focused treatments are considerably shorter in time. One of the thought-focused therapy treatments is called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). REBT was developed by Albert Ellis under the belief that irrational cognitions of people are the main source of difficulty in life. Ellis identified eleven dysfunctional beliefs that people may have. The website Changing Minds (2011) identifies the following eleven irrational beliefs (IB’s): 1. It is a dire necessity for adult humans to be loved or approved by virtually every significant other person in their community. 2. One absolutely must be competent, adequate and achieving in all important respects or else one is an inadequate, worthless person. 3. People absolutely must act considerately and fairly and they are damnable villains if they do not. They are their bad acts. 4. It is awful and terrible when things are not the way one would very much like them to be. 5. Emotional disturbance is mainly externally caused and people have little or no ability to increase or decrease their dysfunctional feelings and behaviors. 6. If something is or may be...
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