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General techniques

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Attitude of the therapist - most important aspect of a therapist's technique. The therapist should be aiming to provide the patient with a different sort of emotional experience from the damaging experiences encountered in earlier relationships

  • It is important to note that the therapist can never replace a neglectful mother or a harsh father but he can ameliorate the effects of these early figures by being tolerant, sympathetic and honest, and refraining from passing judgement on the patient

  • The therapist should encourage the patient to talk about what is on his mind (rather than the therapist's) by basing what he says on the cues given by the patient. These cues are indications of what the patient may be experiencing, feeling, or worrying about whilst he is talking to the therapist. Cues can be of three sorts:-
    • those lying in context of the patient's talk, eg hints about conflict with his spouse or fear of doctors;
    • those revealed by the way the patient talks, eg hesitations, or decrease in volume;
    • those shown in action or posture eg anxious fidgeting of angry foot tapping

  • The therapist's remarks to the patient should aim to encourage him to focus on two main topics:- feelings, eg guilt, shame, anger, fear, joy, etc; and important relationships, including the current relationship with the therapist
  • The relationship with the therapist can be explored to understand the inappropriate of maladaptive ways in which the patient responds to other people and the anxieties and conflicts which drive him to respond in these ways
  • Once the patient has understood and identified some of his maladaptive behaviours the therapist then encourages him to try out more appropriate interpersonal behaviour, initially in therapy sessions and subsequently with other people

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