Changing Character: Short-Term Anxiety-Regulating Psychotherapy for Restructuring Defenses, Affects, and Attachment

Synopsis

Leigh McCullough Vaillant, a nationally recognized expert on short-term dynamic psychotherapy, shows therapists how to identify and remove obstacles in one's character (ego defenses) that block emotional experience. She then illustrates how the therapist can delve into that experience and harness the tremendous adaptive power provided by emotions. The result? She shows us how to have emotions without emotions "having" their way with us. Vaillant's integrative psychodynamic model holds that the source of psychopathology is the impairment of human emotional experience and expression, which includes impairment in drives and beliefs but is seen fundamentally as the impairment of affects. In this short-term approach, psychotherapists are shown how to combine behavioral, cognitive, and relational theories to make psychodynamic treatment briefer and more effective. Vaillant illustrates how affect bridges the gap between intrapsychic and interpersonal approaches to psychotherapy. Affect, she argues, has the power to make or break relational bonds. Through the regulation of anxieties associated with affects in relation to self and others, therapists can help their patients undergo meaningful character change. A holistic focus on affects and attachment has not been adequately addressed in either traditional psychodynamic theory or cognitive theory. Clearly and masterfully, Vaillant shows therapists how to integrate the powers of cognition and emotion within a dynamic short-term therapy approach.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • David Malan
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1997