Gestalt Psychology

Topics: Gestalt therapy, Gestalt psychology, Psychotherapy Pages: 19 (6937 words) Published: May 11, 2010
Free Research Papers Gestalt Psychology
This essay will explore the nature of learning from different approaches in psychology. Furthermore, the ways in which learning might affect health and well-being will be investigated. This will be carried out by examining different treatments, in an attempt to reveal the use of learning as part of these treatments. Initially, key terms will be defined. Subsequently, learning will be discussed from the perspectives of the behavioural approach, the social approach and the biological approach, all of which represent different psychology perspectives. Following this, Gestalt therapy, psychoanalytical psychodynamic psychotherapy (PPP) and naturopathy will be considered as treatments, in which learning plays an essential part. Finally, there will be a reflection on what has preceded, followed by a conclusion. The terms `learning', `health' and `well-being' require definition. Smith et al define `learning' as `relatively permanent change in behaviour that occurs as the result of experience' (2003, p.233). Gross states that `learning is a hypothetical construct: it cannot be directly observed, but only inferred from observable behaviour' (2005, p.171). There are several definitions of the term `health'. In this essay the World Health Organisation definition will be used. `Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity' (WHO, 2006, p.1). Whereas, `well-being refers to how good, desirable and enjoyable life as a whole is felt by the person in question. In this sense, it is a subjective feeling, something felt or experienced' (Chatterji, S. et al, 2002, p.15). Having defined key terms, the first point of discussion will be to view learning from different perspectives of psychology. Firstly, learning will be explored from the behavioural perspective. According to this approach, behaviour is influenced by the environment (Gross, 2005). The key idea is that the human brain is `a tabular rasa at birth - a blank slate, waiting to be written on by its experiences' (Hayes, 1994, p.249). There are different mechanisms and processes influencing learning within the behavioural approach, such as, classical conditioning and operant (or instrumental) conditioning, which will be discussed. Classical conditioning is based on Pavlov's experiments on dogs and Watson's studies of the behaviour of animals and infants (Smith et al, 2003). The fundamental principle is `the idea of learning through association' (Hayes, 1994, p.846). An association is `a learned link (…) between a stimulus and a response' and it `could be forged simply by repeating the two together often enough' (Hayes, 1994, p.846). Thus, when the same stimulus repeatedly creates the same response, one will create an association between the two and eventually will learn that this stimulus creates this specific response. Skinner developed operant conditioning (Smith et al, 2003). According to this, learning happens because it is reinforced (Hayes, 1994). There are two types of reinforcement, positive and negative. `Positive reinforcement describes a behaviour that produces an appetitive stimulus, and negative reinforcement occurs when behaviour prevents an aversive stimulus' (Smith et al, 2003, p.243). In other words, behaviour that is followed by positive outcomes is strengthened and it will probably be repeated, whereas behaviour that is followed by negative outcomes will probably not be repeated (Hogg & Vaughan, 2008). The social learning theory derives from the behavioural approach and was developed by Bandura (Smith et al, 2003). According to Bandura there are three factors that influence one's behaviour. These factors are the `internal cognitive processes', `observation of the behaviours of others and the environment in which behaviour occurs' (Smith et al, 2003, p.472). One can learn behaviour through the processes of `imitation and modelling' (Hayes, 1994, p.308). This...
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