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Behavioural Concepts and Treatments of Neuroses

  • Isaac Marks (a1)

Behavioural psychotherapy has many roots, and experimental psychology is but one of many “idols of origin” which is in any case largely ignored by behavioural practitioners. The conditioning model of neurosis has shortcomings, and cognitive explanations alone are not satisfactory. It may be necessary to think in terms of failed extinction of phobias and rituals rather than of enhanced acquisition. Aetiological theories need not be related to effective treatment, nor are they necessary for clinicians to carry out successful behavioural treatment. For therapists, paradigms are more useful when derived from clinical experiments rather than from the laboratory. A critical task concerning treatments to reduce anxiety is to investigate those parameters which decide when exposure will be habituating and when it will be sensitizing. To this end, analogue research is less relevant than clinical experiments whose results can be used directly by clinicians. Ten theoretical problems with exposure are noted.

The demand for behavioural psychotherapy exceeds the supply of therapists. Paraprofessionals and self-help methods can help to bridge the gap, while preventive measures may prevent the development of some pathology. Most clinical psychologists and psychiatrists are overqualified merely to deliver behavioural services; there is no evidence that such qualifications add to effectiveness, though they are invaluable for research and teaching.

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Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
  • ISSN: 1352-4658
  • EISSN: 1469-1833
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