Academic journal article The International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy

Functional Analytic Psychotherapy and Supervision

Academic journal article The International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy

Functional Analytic Psychotherapy and Supervision

Article excerpt


The interpersonal behavior therapy, Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP) has been empirically investigated and described in the literature for a little over a decade. Still, little has been written about the process of supervision in FAP. While there are many aspects of FAP supervision shared by other contemporary behavior therapies and psychotherapy in general, there are unique aspects of FAP supervision that warrant a more elaborate discussion. The present article provides a brief summary of FAP and then details some of the essential skills required of FAP therapists. Client and therapist conceptualizations can be developed in FAP supervision to help train supervisees in behavioral terminology and identify strengths and weaknesses in the therapist's repertoire. The process of FAP supervision is described with an emphasis on the importance of utilizing the hypothesized mechanism of clinical change, in vivo contingent responding to problem and improved behaviors. This live insupervision process of creating a more effective therapist repertoire remains at the heart of FAP training. FAP supervision in group format is addressed as are ethical and professional issues related to the demarcation of interpersonal supervision and the therapist-in-training's own psychotherapy. An approach to the assessment of changes in therapist skills over the course of supervision is presented.

Keywords: Supervision, functional, analytic, psychotherapy, assessment.


There exists copious writing on supervision and its role in the development of psychotherapists' skills (see for example, Watkins, 1997). Much of this writing is paradigmatically rooted and deals with specific types of interventions such as cognitive, psychodynamic, or humanistic. The present article does not aim to repeat or summarize these writings on supervision nor to explore models that may or may not be more successful in imparting essential therapy skills to trainees. Instead, this paper focuses on supervision in one specific contemporary behavioral intervention, Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP; Kohlenberg & Tsai, 1991).

Contemporary or contextual behavior therapies such as FAP, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT; Linehan, 1993) have all emphasized the role that supervision can play. Each of these three therapies takes a somewhat different position on the role of didactic instruction, experience, and emotion in training the supervisee to successfully conduct each intervention. In part because these therapies are relatively new among the community of psychotherapies and because there is considerable variation with regard to how each is trained (e.g., in workshops, one-one-one, or group supervision), not a great deal has been written about the process of supervision for these behavioral treatments.

This paper provides a brief summary of Functional Analytic Psychotherapy and discusses some of the key issues that face the therapist-in-training as well as the supervisor when learning FAP. Every psychotherapy has nuances that are difficult to learn, and FAP is not short of its own. Specific challenges to learning FAP and the unique opportunities it holds as a behavior analytic intervention are described. Issues relevant to the assessment of changes in therapist skills are presented. The article closes with a brief description of some of the ethical and professional issues surrounding this treatment and corresponding learning process.

Overview of FAP

This section attempts to provide the reader with a summary or review of the key concepts in Functional Analytic Psychotherapy that are particularly relevant for supervision while learning this treatment. FAP has been described in several articles and texts in much more detail than can be given justice here in such a brief overview. The reader is referred to the original text by Kohlenberg and Tsai (1991) and articles that are both highly behavior analytic (see for example Follette, Naugle, & Callaghan, 1996) and to those geared for a broader audience (e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.