MULTIPLE THERAPY

Any form of psychotherapy carried out simultaneously by two or more therapists.The term multiple therapy was first used by Rudolf Dreikurs, a follower of Alfred Adler. The technique is occasionally used in family therapy and group therapy as well as individual therapy. In an article published in 1960, Mullan and Sangiuliano report that they initially utilized a second therapist only when an impasse occurred or a crisis situation, such as a suicide threat, presented itself. However, it became clear to them that the second therapist was permanently helpful with certain types of patients, such as men who had difficulty relating to the opposite sex. In these cases the second therapist was often introduced at the start of the process and not merely when it reached an impasse.In most instances, however, the second therapist is brought into the picture in the midst of the therapeutic process, and his presence usually has a number of effects. Frequently the patient’s dreams become Oedipal in nature as a result of the triangular situation, and this becomes an important source of information on the struggle within the original family. Moreover, the patient and the two therapists form a symbolic family in which the original relationships can be re-enacted. And as the patient learns to deal with the symbolic relationships of the therapeutic situation, he begins to alter his basic attitudes and deal more effectively with his real relationships.Mullan and Sangiuliano summarize a number of advantages cited by various practitioners of multiple therapy. The following eight points appear to be particularly significant. First, introduction of a second therapist in the course of the treatment process has a stimulating effect, since the patient has been relating to only one symbolic parent (the first therapist), and is now forced to reconstruct his relationship to his other parent, represented by the second therapist. Second, the inclusion of another therapist adds a note of insecurity for the therapist himself. It confronts him with his own limitations and challenges him to re-examine his approach. (For this reason, some therapists resist the introduction of a colleague into the picture.) Third, the intensity of the therapeutic field is increased by the presence of two therapists and by their own interactions. Fourth, the more complex situation adds to the number of possible relationships which can be utilized in the therapeutic process. Fifth, interaction between the therapists helps them change and grow, and this can have a therapeutic effect on the patients they are treating. Sixth, each therapist may complement or supplement the other both in insight and approach. Seventh, therapeutic impasses can be more easily avoided or dissolved than they can with a single therapist; and then, if it becomes advisable, the patient can be readily transferred entirely to one of the therapists. Eighth, the presence of two therapists helps to reinforce interpretations and gives a more powerful and effective ending to the therapy.

Cite this page: Nugent, Pam M.S., "MULTIPLE THERAPY," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/multiple-therapy/ (accessed January 20, 2019).
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