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  • Anxiety Disorders- Information and links to sites about anxiety disorders.

  • DSM-IV Questions and Answers to common questions about the DSM-IV.

  • Personality Disorders – Multiple links to information on personality disorders and their treatment.

  • Understanding Schizophrenia – An extensive look at schizophrenia.

For more info. on abnormal and other psychology topics check out







Mental illnesses are brought on by a variety of causes therefore therapists must use a variety of methods to treat them.

Research shows that about two-thirds of adults who undergo psychotherapy show marked improvement or recover however about the same number improve without treatment also.


-also known as insight therapies, based on Freud’s ideas
-goal is to uncover the material in the unconscious mind
-free association
-dream analysis
-symptom substitution


-emphasize peoples’ positive capacities, ability to self-actualize
-Carl Rogers, client-centered therapy, Unconditional positive regard
-Gestalt therapy 
-Existential therapies


-attempts to directly manipulate the client’s thinking and reasoning processes
-Rational-emotive therapy
-Attributional style

-Beck cognitive triad


-family therapy

-encounter groups
-self-help groups


-The most common somatic therapy is drug therapy or psychopharmacology 
-electroconvulsive therapy, shock treatment

How do psychotherapies differ? How did psychotherapy originate?

  • Psychotherapies may be classified as insight, action, directive, nondirective, or supportive therapies, and combinations of these.

  • Therapies may be conducted either individually or in groups, and they may be time limited.

  • Primitive approaches to mental illness were often based on belief in supernatural forces.

  • Trepanning involved boring a how in the skull.

  • Demonology attributed mental disturbance to demonic possession and prescribed exorcism as the cure.

  • In some instances, the actual cause of bizarre behavior may have been ergot poisoning.

  • More humane treatment began in 1793 with the work of Philippe Pinel in Paris.

Is Freudian psychoanalysis still used?

  • Freud’s psychoanalysis was the first formal psychotherapy. Psychoanalysis seeks to release repressed thoughts and emotions from the unconscious.

  • The psychoanalyst uses free association, dream analysis, and analysis of resistance and transference to reveal health-producing insights.

  • Some critics argue that traditional psychoanalysis receives credit for spontaneous remissions of symptoms. However, psychoanalysis has been shown to be successful for many patients.

  • Brief psychodynamic therapy (which relies on psychoanalytic theory but is brief and focused) is as effective as other major therapies.

What are the major humanistic therapies?

  • Client-centered (or person-centered) therapy is nondirective and is dedicated to creating an atmosphere of growth.

  • Unconditional positive regard, empathy, authenticity, and reflection are combined to give the client a chance to solve his or her own problems.

  • Existential therapies, such as Frankl’s logotherapy, focus on the end result of the choices one makes in life. Clients are encouraged through confrontation and encounter to exercise free will and to take responsibility for their choices.

  • Gestalt therapy emphasizes immediate awareness of thought and feelings. Its goal is to rebuild thinking, feeling, and acting into connected wholes and to help clients break through emotional blockages.

  • Media psychologists, telephone counselors, and cybertherapists may, on occasion, do some good. However each has serious drawbacks, and the effectiveness of telephone counseling and cybertherapy has not been established.

  • Therapy by videoconferencing shows more promise as a way to provide mental health services at a distance.

What is behavior therapy?

  • Behavior therapists use various behavior modification techniques that apply learning principles to change human behavior.

  • In aversion therapy, classical conditioning is used to associate maladaptive behavior (such as smoking or drinking) with pain or other aversive events in order to inhibit undesirable responses.

How is behavior therapy used to treat phobias, fears, and anxieties?

  • Classical conditioning also underlies systematic desensitization, a technique used to overcome fears and anxieties. In desensitization, gradual adaptation and reciprocal inhibition break the link between fear and particular situations.
  • Typical steps in desensitization are: Construct a fear hierarchy, learn to produce total relaxation, and perform items on the hierarchy (from least to most disturbing).

  • Desensitization may be carried out with real settings, or it may be done by vividly imagining the fear hierarchy.

  • Desensitization is also effective when it is administered vicariously – that is, when clients watch models perform the feared responses.

  • In some cases, virtual reality exposure can be used to present fear stimuli in a controlled manner.

  • A new technique called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) shows promise as a treatment for traumatic memories and stress disorders. At present, however, EMDR is highly controversial.

What role does reinforcement play in behavior therapy?

  • Behavior modification also makes use of operant principles, such as positive reinforcement, nonreinforcement, extinction, punishment, shaping, stimulus control, and time out. These principles are used to extinguish undesirable responses and to promote constructive behavior.

  • Nonreward can extinguish troublesome behaviors. Often this is done by simply identifying and eliminating rein forcers, particularly attention and approval.

  • To apply positive reinforcement and operant shaping, symbolic rewards known as tokens are often used. Tokens allow immediate reinforcement of selected target behaviors.

  • Full-scale use of tokens in an institutional setting produces a token economy. Toward the end of a token economy program, patients are shifted to social rewards such as recognition and approval.

Can therapy change thoughts and emotions?

  • Cognitive therapy emphasizes changing thought patterns that underlie emotional or behavioral problems. Its goals are to correct distorted thinking and/or teach improved coping skills.
  • In a variation of cognitive therapy called rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT), clients learn to recognize and challenge their own irrational beliefs.

Can psychotherapy be done with groups of people?

  • Group therapy may be a simple extension of individual methods, or it may be based on techniques developed specifically for groups

  • In psychodrama, individuals enact roles and incidents resembling their real-life problems. In family therapy, the family group is treated as a unit.

  • Although they are not literally psychotherapies, sensitivity and encounter groups attempt to encourage positive personality change. In recent years, commercially offered large-group awareness trainings have become popular. However, the therapeutic benefits of such programs are questionable.

What do various therapies have in common?

  • To alleviate personal problems, all psychotherapies offer a caring relationship, emotional rapport, a protected setting, catharsis, explanations for the client’s problems, a new perspective, and a chance to practice new behaviors.

  • Many basic counseling skills underlie a variety of therapies. These include listening actively, helping to clarify the problem, focusing on feelings, avoiding the giving of unwanted advice, accepting the person’s perspective, reflecting thoughts and feelings, being patient during silences, using open questions when possible, and maintaining confidentiality.

How do psychiatrists treat psychological disorders?

  • Three medical, or somatic, approaches to treatment are pharmacotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and psychosurgery. All three techniques are controversial to a degree because of questions about effectiveness, and side effects.
  • Community mental health centers seek to avoid or minimize mental hospitalization. They also seek to prevent mental health problems through education, consultation, and crisis intervention.

How are behavioral principles applied to everyday problems?

  • Cognitive techniques can be an aid to managing personal behavior.

  • In covert sensitization, aversive images are used to discourage unwanted behavior.

  • Thought stopping uses mild punishment to prevent upsetting thoughts.

  • Covert reinforcement is a way to encourage desired responses by mental rehearsal.

  • Desensitization pairs relaxation with a hierarchy of upsetting images in order to lessen fears.

How could a person find professional help?

  • In most communities, a competent and reputable therapist can be located with public sources of information or through a referral.

  • Practical considerations such as cost and qualifications enter into choosing a therapist. However, the therapist’s personal characteristics are of equal importance.

Do cultural differences affect counseling and psychotherapy?

  • Many cultural barriers to effective counseling and therapy have been identified.

  • Aware therapists are beginning to seek out the knowledge and skills needed to intervene successfully in the lives of clients from diverse cultural backgrounds.

  • The culturally skilled counselor must be able to establish rapport with a person from a different cultural background and adapt traditional theories and techniques to meet the needs of clients from non-European ethnic or racial groups.


  • Basics of Cognitive Therapy – An overview of cognitive therapy with suggesting readings.

  • Types of Therapies – Describes four different approaches to therapy. Also has information about choosing a therapist.



-The scientific study of the ways in which the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of one individual are influenced by the real, imagined, or inferred behavior or characteristics of other people.


How does group membership affect individual behavior?

  • Humans are social animals enmeshed in a complex network of social relationships. Social psychology studies how individuals behave, think, and feel in social situations.

  • Culture provides a broad social context for our behavior. One’s position in groups defines a variety of roles to be played.

  • Social roles, which may be achieved or ascribed, are particular behavior patterns associated with social positions. When two or more contradictory roles are held, role conflict may occur. The Stanford prison experiment showed that destructive roles may override individual motives for behavior.

  • Positions within groups typically carry higher or lower levels of status. High status is associated with special privileges and respect.

  • Group structure refers to the organization of roles, communication pathways, and power within a group. Group cohesiveness is basically the degree of attraction among group members.

  • Norms are standards of conduct enforced (formally or informally) by groups. The autokinetic effect has been used to demonstrate that norms rapidly form even in temporary groups.

What unspoken rules govern the use of personal space?

  • The study of personal space is called proxemics. Four basic spatial zones around each person’s body are intimate distance (0 to 18 inches), personal distance (1 ½ to 4 feet), social distance (4 to 12 feet), and public distance (12 feet or more).

How do we perceive the motives of others and the causes of our own behavior?

  • Attribution theory is concerned with how we make inferences about behavior. A variety of factors affect attribution, including consistency, distinctiveness, situational demands, and consensus.

  • The fundamental attributional error is to ascribe the actions of others to internal causes. Because of actor-observer differences, we tend to attribute our own behavior to external causes.

  • Self-handicapping, involves arranging excuses for poor performance as a way to protect one’s self-image or self-esteem.

Why do people affiliate?

  • The need to affiliate is tied to additional needs for approval, support, friendship, and information. Additionally, research indicates that affiliation is related to reducing anxiety and uncertainty.

  • Social comparison theory holds that we affiliate to evaluate our actions, feelings, and abilities. Social comparisons are also made for purposes of self-protection and self-enhancement.

What factors influence interpersonal attraction?

  • Interpersonal attraction is increased by physical proximity (nearness), frequent contact, physical attractiveness, competence, and similarity. A large degree of similarity on many dimensions is characteristic of mate selection

  • Self-disclosure occurs more when two people like one another. Self-disclosure follows a reciprocity norm: Low levels of self-disclosure are met with low levels in return, whereas moderate self-disclosure elicits more personal replies. However, overdisclosure tends to inhibit self-disclosure by others.
  • According to social exchange theory, we tend to maintain relationships that are profitable – that is, those for which perceived rewards exceed perceived costs.

  • Romantic love has been studied as a special kind of attitude. Love can be distinguished from liking by the use of attitude scales. Dating couples like and love their partners but only like their friends. Love is also associated with greater mutual absorption between people.

  • Adult love relationships tend to mirror patterns of emotional attachment observed in infancy and early childhood. Secure, avoidant, and ambivalent patterns can be defined on the basis of how a person approaches romantic and affectionate relationships with others.

  • Evolutionary psychology attributes human mating patterns to the differing reproductive challenges faced by men and women since the dawn of time.

What have social psychologists learned about conformity, social power, obedience, and compliance?

  • In general, social influence refers to alterations in behavior brought about by the behavior of others. Conformity to group pressure is a familiar example of social influence

  • Virtually everyone conforms to a variety of broad social and cultural norms. Conformity pressures also exist within smaller groups. The famous Asch experiments demonstrated that various group sanctions encourage conformity.

  • Groupthink refers to compulsive conformity in group decision making. Victims of groupthink seek to maintain each other’s approval, even at the cost of critical thinking.

  • Social influence is also related to five types of social power: reward power, coercive power, legitimate power, referent power, and expert power.
  • Obedience to authority has been investigated in a variety of experiments, particularly those by Milgram. Obedience in Milgram’s studies decreased when the victim was in the same room, when the victim and subject were face to face, when the authority figure was absent, and when others refused to obey.

  • Compliance with direct requests is another means by which behavior is influenced. Three strategies for inducing compliance are the foot-in-the-door technique, the door-it-the-face approach, and the low-ball technique.

  • Recent research suggests that, in addition to excessive obedience to authority, many people show a surprising passive compliance to unreasonable requests.

How does self-assertion differ from aggression?

  • Self-assertion, as opposed to aggression, involves clearly stating one’s wants and needs to others. Learning to be assertive is accomplished by role-playing, rehearsing assertive actions, over-learning, and using specific techniques, such is the ‘broken record’.

What is a social trap?

  • A social trap is a social situation in which immediately rewarded actions have undesired effects in the long run.

  • One prominent social trap occurs when limited public resources are overused, a problem called the tragedy of the commons.

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