How Psychotherapy Heals
Psychotherapy is basically the art of teaching an old dog new tricks. It can consist of any type of intervention aimed at disrupting, changing, or rechanneling a learned behavior or behavioral sequence. One of the most fascinating experiments aimed at preventing an anticipated outcome of a behavioral sequence was conducted in England by John Bowlby and his associates. The research team identified young couples where one or both spouses had been abused as children and where the wife had just become pregnant for the first time. They rightly assumed that these unborn children were at risk for abuse. Bowlby then assembled a group of middle-aged couples, untrained volunteers, and assigned one set of volunteers to each of these young couples. The concept underlying this assignment was to "mother the mother." All that was asked of these sets of foster grandparents was to drop in several times a week, share a cup of coffee, shoot the breeze, listen to the mother, maybe mind the baby for an hour, or help the young woman go shopping. But mostly their purpose was to lend an ear, or a shoulder, to be there, rather than to help with the actual work. In all the years that this program has been in operation there has not been one case of child abuse, when on the basis of statistical probability alone, there should have been several. This is psychotherapy in its most rudimentary form. Abuse, certainly, had been a behavioral possibility for these parents who had been on the receiving
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Publication information: Book title: On Mood Swings:The Psychobiology of Elation and Depression. Contributors: Susanne P. Schad-Somers - Author. Publisher: Insight Books. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1990. Page number: 178.
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