Saturday, June 23, 2012

Supportive Psychotherapy 101

An article in Psychiatric News on June 15 by Arnold Winston [his book] offers a quick review about the elements of supportive psychotherapy and why it has become the most widely used form of psychotherapy.

Definition of supportive psychotherapy: designed to reduce symptoms, improve self-esteem, and maximize adaptive capacities.
TECHNIQUES
  • alliance building (expressions of interest, empathy, conversational style)
  • esteem building (reassurance, normalizing, encouragement)
  • skills building (advice, teaching, anticipatory guidance)
  • reducing and preventing anxiety (normalizing, reframing, rationalizing)
  • expanding awareness (clarification, confrontation, interpretation)
  • strengthening defenses (as opposed to challenging them)
  • other cognitive-behavioral (identification and examination of automatic thoughts, relaxation exercises, assertiveness training, exposure treatment)
QUALITIES
  • supportive
  • empathic
  • nonthreatening
THERAPEUTIC ALLIANCE
  • affectionate bond between patient and therapist
  • agreement on the task and goals of the therapy
  • patient's capacity to perform therapeutic work
  • therapist's empathic relatedness and involvement