Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Psychotherapy: Unity in Diversity

Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Psychotherapy: Unity in Diversity

Article excerpt

Abstract

Psychotherapy refers to the use of psychological principles by professionals to bring about a relief of distress as well as an enhancement of well being in individuals. Psychotherapy has different theoretical approaches namely, Psychoanalytic / Psychodynamic, Cognitivebehavioural, Interpersonal or systemic, Existential or gestalt perspectives as well as several African originated therapies such as Ebigbo's Harmony restoration therapy and Awaritefe's Meseron Therapy. While some psycho therapies are archeological in nature; exploring the unconscious for meaning for the conscious, others are active and problem focused, some are uncovering while some supportive, some uphold existential principles while some are empirically driven, the list seems endless. Despite these seemingly different theoretical backgrounds and approach to treatment, research findings indicate that all forms of psychotherapy are equally effective. This position is aptly captured by Rosen "Dodo Bird Verdict" which states that all have done well and deserve to win. A salient implication of this verdict is that no therapy is superior to the other. Additionally all forms of psychotherapie's are reported to share common factors which serve as the most important ingredient in the achievement of positive outcomes. Thus as it pertains to psychotherapy there can be and there is indeed unity in diversity.

Introduction

The word psychotherapy is an English word of Greek origin; psyche which means "breath, spirit, soul" and therapia "healing, medical treatment". It was first used in its modern context in 1892 as "the treatment of disorders of the mind or personality by psychological or psycho-physiological methods" by Frederik van Eeden. Psychotherapy enjoys several definitions, according to Jerome Frank (1988) psychotherapy is the relief of distress or disability in one person by another, using an approach based on a particular theoiy or paradigm, and a requirement that the agent performing the therapy has had some form of training in delivering this. Hans J. Eysenck (1952) defines it as "the use of psychological theories and methods in the treatment of psychiatric disorders". Davidson and Neale (1996) referred to psychotherapy as a primary verbal means of helping troubled individuals change their thoughts, feelings and behavior to reduce stress and achieve greater life satisfaction. Psychotherapy has also been defined as the systematic application by a trained and experienced professional therapist, of techniques derived from psychological principles for the purpose of helping psychologically troubled people (Day 2004). Madu (2003) called for broad -mindedness in the definition of psychotherapy, he posits that psychotherapy should include some effective emotional healing activities of African traditional healers, religious faith healers, and African originated forms of psychotherapy.

To give clarity to what psychotherapy really means necessitates an expansion of some of the issues raised in the foregoing definitions. One definition says it involves the application of psychological theories and paradigms, in other words it is a guided enterprise, it is not haphazard. By implication training is stressed, some definitions emphasize training and experience, invariably therefore psychotherapy is not a premise for "green horns," mastery of the art is a prerequisite. It is a referred to as a verbal means of help; words are the primary means of interaction in most psychotherapy, however other forms of communication like the written word, art work, drama and narrative, story or music maybe employed depending on the clientele. As a means of changing an individual's thoughts, feelings and behavior, specific techniques are required as well an appropriate therapeutic atmosphere that can instill confidence and a will to change identified maladaptive thoughts, feelings and behavior. Across the definitions psychotherapy is portrayed as capable of relieving stress and distress. …

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