The Psychological Record

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 341–354 | Cite as

A Behavior Analytic Interpretation of the Therapeutic Relationship

  • Irwin S. Rosenfarb
Article

Abstract

The paper examines, from a behavior analytic perspective, the mechanisms through which change occurs within the context of the therapeutic relationship in individual psychotherapy. The analysis focuses upon the therapist’s shaping of the client’s behavior through subtle nonverbal cues and explicit verbal analyses. In the relationship, therapists modify behavior that has created difficulties for the client in the natural environment, and clinical change is dependent upon the extent to which those in the natural environment will reinforce functionally similar response classes. Ferster’s distinction between natural and arbitrary reinforcement and Skinner’s distinction between contingency-shaped and rule-governed behavior are also used to describe the manner through which change occurs. The goal of the paper is to stimulate behavior therapists to look more closely at the therapeutic relationship as a mechanism of clinical change and to help those of other perspectives see how their effectiveness within the relationship can be understood using the principles of learning.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. ADAMS, J. S., & HOFFMAN, B. (1960). The frequency of self-reference statements as a function of generalized reinforcement. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 60, 384–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. ALEXANDER, F, & FRENCH, T. M. (1946). Psychoanalytic therapy: Principles and application. New York: Ronald.Google Scholar
  3. APPELBAUM, S. A. (1978). Pathways to change in psychoanalytic therapy. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 42, 239–251.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. AZRIN, N. H., & HOLZ, W. C. (1966). Punishment. In W. K. Honig (Ed.), Operant behavior (pp. 380–447). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  5. AZRIN, R. D., & HAYES, S. C. (1984). The discrimination of interest within a heterosexual interaction: Training, generalization, and the effects on social skill. Behavior Therapy, 15, 173–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. BEIER, E. G., & YOUNG, D. M. (1984). The silent language of psychotherapy (2nd ed.). New York: Aldine.Google Scholar
  7. BELLACK, A. S., & HERSEN, M. (Eds.). (1979). Research and practice in social skills training. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  8. BOWLBY, J. (1988). Developmental psychiatry comes of age. American Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. DEITZ, S. M. (1989). What is unnatural about “extrinsic reinforcement”? The Behavior Analyst, 12, 255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. EMMELKAMP, P. M. G. (1986). Behavior therapy with adults. In S. Garfield & A. Bergin (Eds.), Handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change (3rd ed., pp. 385–442). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. EYSENCK, H. J. (1960). Behavior therapy and the neuroses. Oxford: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  12. FERSTER, C. B. (1967). Arbitrary and natural reinforcement. The Psychological Record, 17, 341–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. FERSTER, C. B. (1972). Clinical reinforcement. Seminars in Psychiatry, 4, 10l–111.Google Scholar
  14. FERSTER, C. B. (1973). A functional analysis of depression. American Psychologist, 28, 857–870.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. FERSTER, C. B. (1979a). Psychotherapy from the standpoint of a behaviorist. In J. D. Keehn (Ed.), Psychopathology in animals (pp. 279–303). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  16. FERSTER, C. B. (1979b). A laboratory model of psychotherapy: The boundary between clinical practice and experimental psychology. In P. Sjoden, S. Bates, & W. Dockens (Eds.), Trends in behavior therapy (pp. 23–38). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  17. GIBBONS, J. D. (1985). A radical behavioral and psychoanalytic analysis of a case presentation. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavior Analysis, Columbus, Oh.Google Scholar
  18. GOLDIAMOND, I., & DYRUD, J. E. (1968). Some applications and implications of behavioral analysis for psychotherapy. In J. Schlien (Ed.), Research in psychotherapy Vol. 111 (pp. 54–89). Washington, DC: Apa.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. GOTTMAN, J. M. (1982). Time-series analysis. New York: Cambridge.Google Scholar
  20. GREENBERG, L. S. (1986). Change process research. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 54, 4–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. GREENSPOON, J. (1954). The effects of two nonverbal stimuli on the frequency of members of two verbal response classes. American Psychologist, 9, 384.Google Scholar
  22. HAMILTON, S. A. (1988). Behavioral formulations of verbal behavior in psychotherapy. Clinical Psychology Review, 8, 181–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. HAYES, S. C. (Ed.). (1989). Rule-governed behavior. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  24. HILL, C. E. (1990). Exploratory in-session process research in individual psychotherapy: A review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 58, 288–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. KLEIN, M. H., MATIEU-COUGHLAN, P., & KEISLER, D. J. (1986). The experiencing scales. In L. S. Greenberg & W. M. Pinsoff (Eds.), The psychotherapeutic process (pp. 21–72). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  26. KOHLENBERG, R. J., & TSAI, M. (1987). Functional analytic psychotherapy. In N. Jacobson (Ed.), Cognitive and behavior therapists in clinical practice (pp. 388–443). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  27. KRASNER, L. (1971). The operant approach in behavior therapy. In A. E. Bergin & S. L. Garfield (Eds.), Handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change (pp. 612–652). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  28. LUBORSKY, L, & CRITS-CHRISTOPH, P. (1989). Understanding transference: The Ccrt method. New York: Basic.Google Scholar
  29. LUBORSKY, L., CRITS-CHRISTOPH, P., & MELLON, J. (1986). Advent of objective measures of the transference concept. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 54, 39–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. LUBORSKY, L., SINGER, B., HARTE, J., CRITS-CHRISTOPH, P., & COHEN, M. (1984). Shifts in depressive state during psychotherapy: Which concepts of depression fit the context of Mr. Q’s shifts? In L. N. Rice & L. S. Greenberg (Eds.), Patterns of change (pp. 157–193). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  31. MAHRER, A. R. (1988). Discovery-oriented psychotherapy research: Rationale, aims, and methods. American Psychologist, 43, 694–702.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. MORRIS, R. J., & MAGRATH, K. H. (1983). The therapeutic relationship in behavior therapy. In M. J. Lambert (Ed.), Psychotherapy and patient relationships (pp. 154–189). Homewood, IL: Dow Jones-Irwin.Google Scholar
  33. MURRAY, E. J. (1956). A content-analysis method for studying psychotherapy. Psychological Monographs, 70(13), whole no. 420.Google Scholar
  34. QUAY, H. (1959). The effect of verbal reinforcement on the recall of early memories. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 59, 254–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. RACHLIN, H. (1974). Self-control. Behaviorism, 2, 94–107.Google Scholar
  36. RICE, L. N., & GREENBERG, L. S. (Eds.). (1984). Patterns of change. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  37. ROSENFARB, I. S., HAYES, S. C., & LINEHAN, M. M. (1989). Instructions and experiential feedback in the treatment of social skills deficits in adults. Psychotherapy, 26, 242–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. SALZINGER, K., & PISONI, S. (1958). Reinforcement of affect responses of schizophrenics during the clinical interview. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 57, 84–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. SHAPIRO, D. (1989). Psychotherapy of neurotic character. New York: Basic.Google Scholar
  40. SKINNER, B. F. (1950). Are theories of learning necessary? Psychological Review, 57, 193–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. SKINNER, B. F. (1953). Science and human behavior. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  42. SKINNER, B. F. (1969). Contingencies of reinforcement. New York: Appleton- Century-Crofts.Google Scholar
  43. SKINNER, B. F. (1982). Contrived reinforcement. The Behavior Analyst, 5, 3–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. SWEET, A. A. (1984). The therapeutic relationship in behavior therapy. Clinical Psychology Review, 4, 253–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. TIMMONS, E. O., NOBLIN, C. D., ADAMS, H. E., & BUTLER, J. R. (1965). Operant conditioning with schizophrenics comparing verbal reinforcers vs. psychoanalytic interpretations: Differential extinction effects. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1, 373–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. TRUAX, C. B. (1966). Reinforcement and nonreinforcement in Rogerian psychotherapy. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 71, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. WILSON, G. T, & EVANS, I. (1977). The therapist-client relationship in behavior therapy. In A. S. Gurman & A. M. Razin (Eds.), Effective psychotherapy (pp. 554–565). New York: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  48. WOLF, E. (1966). Learning theory and psychoanalysis. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 39, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. WOLPE, J. (1954). Reciprocal inhibition as the main basis of psychotherapeutic effects. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 72, 205–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. YALOM, I. D. (1989). Love’s executioner and other tales of psychotherapy. New York: Basic.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irwin S. Rosenfarb
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUCLA Family ProjectLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations