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Psychotherapy.

1. As pastors become increasingly involved in pastoral counseling, they are showing more and more interest in methods and findings of psychotherapy. The pastoral counseling movement, developed esp. in the middle decades of the 20th c., used psychotherapeutic techniques and insights.

2. Psychotherapy is not a substitute for Christian faith, but it may be used to help solve emotional and mental problems. As gen. practiced, it does not harm Christian faith; rather, some aspects, e.g., catharsis (see also 6; Psychology, J 7), may lead to a stronger spiritual life.

3. “Psychotherapy” comes from Gk. psyche, “soul; mind” and therapeia, “healing.”

4. Psychotherapy involves a relationship bet. therapist and patient or interrelationships in a group (group or multiple therapy). It is essentially treatment through words and actions; drugs may also be used in some cases. It deals with emotions and motivation; it is not primarily information-giving.

5. Basic thesis underlying psychotherapy: Emotional problems often result from chronic anxiety and frustration, repressed fears and guilt, or inadequate ways of relating to others. In the therapeutic relationship, the patient explores these hidden feelings; when he feels free to express anger or guilt. their tyrannical hold on him is removed; he feels more comfortable and is free to act more appropriately in relationships with mems. of his family, fellow employees, friends, and others. From the therapist the patient learns more adequate ways of relating to people. He tries his new discoveries and is supported throughout by the therapist.

6. Important ingredients of psychotherapy: A strong bond bet. patient and therapist in which the therapist expresses basic confidence in the patient and allows him almost complete freedom to speak, act, and make decisions as he wishes. The therapist does not condemn the patient for any feelings expressed, leaving the patient free to pour out pent-up emotions (catharsis). The patient benefits from the experience of being accepted by the therapist, learning that not all will reject him and that not all are harsh and unforgiving (reeducation, desensitization, redirection).

7. Goals of psychotherapy: reduction of emotional tensions, greater maturity, willingness to face reality, acquisition of better techniques for coping with problems, self-understanding.

8. The need for psychotherapy exceeds the supply of available help; the gap seems to be widening.

9. Psychotherapy is used most commonly in treating psychoses, neuroses, other forms of mental illness, children's behavioral problems, stuttering, sexual problems, alcoholism.

10. Approaches to psychotherapy vary. In gen. there are 2 kinds of therapists: (1) Those who are more directive, give more advice, and tend more to tell the patient what to do. These therapists often include use of drugs and/or other physical treatments in therapy. They tend to see patients for a shorter period of time and seem to be closer to other med. specialties in orientation, attitude, appearance of their offices, etc. (2) Those who tend to emphasize psychological aspects of problems, are more analytic in approach, see the patient for longer periods at a time and for more sessions. Psychoanalysts form a subdivision of this group.

11. Psychoanalysis was founded by S. Freud,* but many psychoanalysts have abandoned orthodox Freudian viewpoints and formed systems of their own. Psychoanalysis is most often used for neurotic disorders but is not limited to them. It is the most intensive of the therapies and usually involves several sessions a week over months, sometimes years. Psychoanalysts typically use a couch to help a patient relax and become more spontaneous in saying whatever comes to mind (free association).

12. Another approach under the more analytic category is the client-centered (formerly called nondirective) school of Carl Ransom Rogers (b. 1902 Oak Park, Illinois; psychologist). In the accepting and permissive atmosphere encouraged by the counselor, the client is expected to verbalize his feelings and gain insight into his problems. Insight leaves him more mature, freer, and more capable of indep. action (self-actualization).

13. The Eur. school of logotherapy (or existential analysis) has developed special interest for clerics. It emphasizes the importance of working toward an understanding of the meaning of life. It holds that other therapies, in treating the will to pleasure or the will to power, miss the fundamental ingredient of a satisfying therapeutic solution, i. e., what life actually means. It seems to be more compatible with Christianity but is not a religious therapy. Exponents include Viktor E. Frankl (b. 1905 Vienna, Austria; psychiatrist; works include The Doctor and the Soul: An Introduction to Logotherapy and Man's Search for Meaning).

14. Psychotherapy, as differentiated from counseling, is practiced by:

a. Psychiatrists. Psychiatrists must have an MD degree; are qualified to use medical treatments (e.g., prescription medications) besides psychotherapy; must meet legal requirements in order to practice. Bona fide psychoanalysts meet the same requirements as psychiatrists and have further special training; but since the term “psychoanalyst” is not protected by law, anyone may call himself a psychoanalyst.

b. Psychologists. Reputable psychologists who practice psychotherapy usually have a PhD degree from an accredited university. Training includes supervised experience in psychotherapy. Since the term “psychologist” is not protected by law, anyone may call himself a psychol.

c. Psychiatric soc. workers. Some soc. workers, with an MA degree from an accredited university, are qualified to practice psychotherapy. The term “soc. worker” is not defined by law.

15. The relative effectiveness of the various schools of psychotherapy is hard to determine. In any given case, success is probably determined more by the function of the therapist, the qualities of the patient, and the type of problem than by the therapist's theoretical orientation. KHB

P. E. Meehl, What, Then, Is Man? (St. Louis, 1958); A. C. Outler, Psychotherapy and the Christian Message (New York, 1954); C. R. Rogers, Client-Centered Therapy (Boston, 1951).


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod


Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

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