DIRECTIVE PSYCHOTHERAPY

An eclectic procedure developed by Frederick C. Thorne, in which the therapist provides the type of treatment needed at each stage of the process This approach originated as a reaction to what Thome believed to be an overemphasis on nondirective techniques and a neglect of traditional methods, due to the sudden popularity of the methods of Carl Rogers. He holds that we cannot rely exclusively on a nondirective approach, for “the need for direction is inversely correlated with the person’s potentialities for effective self-regulation” (Thome, 1955). Since most patients do not have this capacity at the beginning of therapy, the more “passive” techniques cannot be used. However, if they develop the ability to regulate themselves, nondirective techniques may later be introduced.In selecting the most appropriate type of therapy for a given patient, Thome utilizes the concept of distributive analysis developed by Adolph Meyer. This involves a thorough case study in which every function of the individual is investigated (physical, emotional, social, intellectual) and trends of greatest etiological significance are noted. The course of therapy is directed along the lines determined by this psychobiologi- cal approach. The treatment process itself is viewed as an educational or re- educational process during which the patient gradually learns to utilize his own capacities to regulate his behavior effectively. Thorne believes this must be achieved largely on an intellectual level: “The goal of therapy is to replace emotional-impulsive behavior with deliberate rational-adaptive behavior based on the highest utilization of intellectual resources.”In placing great stress on rational methods of control and adjustment Thorne differs somewhat from the com- mon-sense therapy of Meyer. His approach is based on the psychology of learning and involves two general steps:(a)(a) the establishment of suitable conditions for learning, using psychoanalysis and nondirective techniques to establish rapport, release repressions, and produce insight into traumatic experiences; and (b) the provision of appropriate training situations based upon the patient’s history and diagnosis. Thome maintains that the first approach helps the patient to gain insight; but he must go through the second, or reconditioning, process before he can master a new style of life. The process is not a mechanical affair, but an exercise in problem-solving during which the patient improves his mental health by focusing his intellect on his life situation. The therapist is viewed as a master educator who takes over from the forces which have produced unhealthy behavior—i.e. the patient’s family, social environment, education and experiences, as well as his own personality. As an educator, he uses scientific knowledge to reveal the illogical premises on which the patient’s faulty behavior is based, and to bring him to a point where he will adopt a new approach. During this procedure, the patient’s morale is maintained by the therapist’s interest in his history and by assurances that his condition is not unusual or dangerous.In their book Six Approaches to Psychotherapy, McCary and Sheer (1955) summarize the directive approach by pointing out that the therapist assumes responsibility “for conducting all details of case handling according to the highest ethical and professional standards,” including (a) adequate diagnostic studies involving not only a complete case history but clinical examinations, psychometric and projective studies, laboratory procedures (EEG, etc.); (b) formulation of the psychodynamics of the case, including etiology, clinical status, personality resources, and prognosis; (c) outline of a plan of therapy related to the needs of the individual patient; (d) a genuinely eclectic approach utilizing all resources, either directive or nondirective; (e) utilization of experimentally established principles at all levels of case handling. Thorne believes that the short-cut therapies and purely nondirective approaches of our day tend to oversimplify the therapeutic process and bypass a scientific approach to psychodiagnosis and therapy

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "DIRECTIVE PSYCHOTHERAPY," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/directive-psychotherapy/ (accessed October 30, 2020).
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