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Int J Psychoanal. 2003 Aug;84(Pt 4):823-41.

Rethinking therapeutic action.

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Department of Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Like other core psychoanalytic constructs, the theory of therapeutic action is currently in flux, as theorists of differing persuasions propose different mechanisms. In this article, the authors attempt to integrate developments within and without psychoanalysis to provide a working model of the multifaceted processes involved in producing change in psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. A theory of therapeutic action must describe both what changes (the aims of treatment) and what strategies are likely to be useful in facilitating those changes (technique). The authors believe that single-mechanism theories of therapeutic action, no matter how complex, are unlikely to prove useful at this point because of the variety of targets of change and the variety of methods useful in effecting change in those targets (such as techniques aimed at altering different kinds of conscious and unconscious processes). Interventions that facilitate change may be classified into one of three categories: those that foster insight, those that make use of various mutative aspects of the treatment relationship and a variety of secondary strategies that can be of tremendous importance. They propose that, in all forms of psychoanalytic treatment, we would be more accurate to speak of the therapeutic actions, rather than action.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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