Human Change Processes: The Scientific Foundations of Psychotherapy

Human Change Processes: The Scientific Foundations of Psychotherapy

Human Change Processes: The Scientific Foundations of Psychotherapy

Human Change Processes: The Scientific Foundations of Psychotherapy

Synopsis

The mystery of how, when, and why people change lies at the heart of the therapy process. Many authors have given shape to different pieces of the puzzle. Here at last is a book that provides the integrative framework within which these pieces can fit together. Why is it so difficult for people to change? What can be done to maximize the chances for success? To answer these questions, this sweeping book travels across a vast intellectual terrain, encompassing the history of ideas about human nature, developments in the cognitive sciences, artificial intelligence, evolution, psychobiology, developmental psychology, theories of emotion, the psychology of self, and more. The author then applies the theory to practice, drawing on his wide personal experience with hundreds of clients "in transition" to outline a model of significant change. Mahoney identifies common themes and experience patterns associated with dramatic change, emphasizing the role of emotionality and cognitive processes, and challenging long-revered notions about thinking and feeling. Here is an important work that will point researchers in new directions, will help practicing therapists adapt theoretical concepts to helping patients change, and will make fascinating reading for anyone exploring his or her own life journey.

Excerpt

This book represents the culmination of ten years of research and writing about basic principles and processes of human psychological change. It has been my most intense and sustained project as a scientist and health professional. There were, to be sure, times when its scope felt almost overwhelming. Motivated by a desire to be comprehensive and integrative, I was drawn into literatures that were humbling in both their expanse and difficulty. As often as I felt overwhelmed, however, I was even more often inspired by the ideas and experiences generated in the process of exploration. Whatever the ultimate contributions of this work may be, I have richly enjoyed the paths of inquiry that it has afforded me.

A central assertion of this book is that we are participant observers in an era of dramatic change in human experience. Increasing numbers of individuals are reporting fundamentally novel ways of knowing and experiencing their lives, their selves, and their relationships to other people and our shared planet. Among many other expressions of this "axial" (pivotal) shift in human understanding, recent developments in both theory and research suggest that consciousness, affect, personal identity, and intentionality can (again) be examined as important expressions of human activity. I believe that this shift has important implications for our understanding and facilitation of individual and collective adaptation and development.

My goal in this book has been to examine our basic assumptions about human change processes. I have also tried to practice an intentional self-awareness in the process of that examination, so that specific assumptions could be constructively reviewed (for example, the assumption that . . .

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