The History of Therapy

The history of psychotherapy has a long extensive understanding composed of social norms revolving around human behaviors, which have been considered to be “mad” or “insane”, which means mentally unstable. Through our history, many individuals found comfort in beliefs about deities, souls, and eternal life. Currently, psychotherapy can be viewed as the handling of a disordered mind and resulting maladaptive behaviors through the use of a professional helping relationship. In the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) (1000 B.C.) refers to ‘madness’ as a possession by evil spirits, which is identified in passages of evil spirits or mood disturbances (e.

g. depression with mania, schizophrenic tendencies). Mental ailments may predate history, which can be marked through time when many individuals were found to fall outside the social norms of the time.

Psychotherapy has an extensive history in which some believe it is an age-old method of healing which may have begun in ancient Greece where the “care of the soul” was the backdrop of therapeutic efforts.

Another aspect of this is many think it was a product of a modern moment at the end of the 18th century involving social coercion and the rise of the bourgeois family later acceding to a prime technology of autonomy and self-regulation without liberal democracies. Others believed it provided personal experiences creating fundamentally new ways of conceiving of the self or of being. Others identify this shift as a form of religious practice hidden by the language of medical science, which evolved over time.

It is found that before Hippocrates, the Hindu physician Sushruta stated mental illnesses were caused by strong emotions and positions.

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Some Asian cultures took the human nature aspect of seeing the person as being a holistic being, while most western cultures identified the personas, a body and a soul (or a mind). In this, Plato (427-347 B.C) described the theory of body and soul as irrational and irrational parts in which the rational soul was immortal, divine, and resided in the brain, while the irrational soul was located in the chest. In this, the irrational passionate soul was called thymos, which is currently identified as dysthymia. Plato recognized three kinds of madness resulting from the rational and irrational souls became separated: melancholia, mania, and depression. This is one of many examples to which psychotherapy may have originated during the time of Greek philosophy, such as Stoics identified the use of healing words and philosophical ideas to assist the client to overcome mental and emotional distress. Hippocrates identified medicine derived from naturally-occurring plants to teat mental illnesses. Epicurus stated emotions may be rational or irrational and medicine heals the sickness of bodies, while philosophy heals the suffering of the soul.

Psychoanalysis can be traced back to 1880, where Joseph Breuer treated a patient named “Anna O” using a method was coined “the talking cure” but abandoned when Sigmund Freud decided to make it his life’s work. He identified psychoanalysis as both the science of the unconscious mind and the medical treatment of mental disease. By the 1930s his theories were very influential, and the majority of American psychiatrists embraced this concept. In the early 1900s the discipline of academic psychology developed to deal with questions of human behavior even though there were only about 25 clinical psychologists in 1917, the profession grew rapidly when World War 1 occurred. A large amount of data was collected about mental functioning, and by 1930, there were approximately 800 clinical psychologists. In 1922, when syphilis was isolated several treatments were discovered leading to two Nobel Prizes in the field of psychology. Several types of therapy were tried during these times, including shock therapy, insulin, Metrazol, and lobotomies. Through this period of time, ideas surrounding the cause of mental illnesses were thought to be related with the environment and socialization, rather than organic diseases.

The role of psychotherapy became prominent in the lives of individuals in the contemporary western world during the late 19th century (Carrory, 2000: 11; Shamdasani, 2005: 1). The history of psychotherapy is somewhat scattered in which the institutional and theoretical developments of approaches are contradictory due to lack of consensus of information among literature contributing to a formal history of the beginning of therapeutic efforts. Traces of certain therapeutic sensibility can be identified in several articles beginning in Greece (Bankart, 1997; Jackson, 1999; Sxhmidbauer, 1998). It is suggested the equivalence between the classical thought and practice, and contemporary approaches hints at a genuine significance within the active appropriation of classical motifs found in the foundational tests of the modes of therapy. This could be found in Freud’s dialogue of Greek philosophy explicated in the work of Alfred Tauber (2010). Carl Meir, the Jungian analyst drew parallels between the analytic psychology and healing traditions of the temple of Asclepius, within the use of isolation within the temple, along with the promotion of sleep to bring therapeutic and enlightening dreams. Meier identified the analogy between the wound of Chiron the centaur associated with healing in the Greek mythology, and the Jungian image of the analyst as a wounded healer (Meier, 1967 [1949]; Samuels, 1985: 187).

History also has found the cognitive-behavioral traditions are within Stoical thought beginning in Greece (Evans, 2012). Many argue Ellis’s position in the beginnings of the Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) homologous with Epithets, demonstrating his ‘active seeking of resources’ in Stoical writings, which enabled him to turn away from psychoanalysis (ibid: 41-12). With this historical overview of the progress of therapeutic interventions is a vast resource in creative innovation in the realm of theory and technique, the traditions may foster a culture of conservatism and deference. It is argued the medicalized formulation of psychotherapy concealed grew out of a combination of rhetoric and religion dating back to early- and pre-Hellenic healing practices which in modern times taken up in other religious traditions as a form of pastoral cure of the soul (ibid.: ch 3).

In 1945, psychologists were licensed to deliver primary care to the mentally ill. With World War II, awareness of the prevalence of mental health issues arose. Society identified a need for psychological assessment and treatment. Between 1945 and 1955 acceptance of mental health care became more mainstream of the culture. Through many cultures in history, many speculated upon nature to the mind, heart, soul, spirit, and brain. Psychology is considered a branch of philosophy that dates back to ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, China, and India until the mid-1800s. This is when it developed as an independent and scientific discipline in Germany and the United States. The philosophical roots were part of the creation in the developmental field of psychology. The first use of the term psychology was attributed to the German scholastic philosopher Rudolf Göckel, who published the Psychologia hoc est de hominis perfectione, anima, ortu in 1950. The term became popular when German idealist philosopher Christian Wolff used it in his Psychologia empirica and Psychologia rationalis (1732-1734).

Wundt has coined the founder of psychology as a formal academic discipline in which he established the first laboratory, edited the first journal, and began experimental psychology as a science. The areas he investigated included sensation and perception, attention, feeling, reaction, and association. Even though Wundt is considered the founder of psychology Ebbighaus’s research brought objectivity, quantification, and experimentation to the study of learning, a topic that remained central to the twentieth-century psychology. Due to the dedication of his work, Ebbinghaus’s vision shifted from the speculation about psychology’s attributes to a formal scientific investigation. Many of his scientific conclusions about the nature of learning remain valid for more than a century after he brought them forth.
History of Integrative Psychology

Over the past 25 years, Integrative Psychology has developed. However, one of the earliest attempts was in the 88th APA meeting where the French (1933) brought forth the parallels between psychoanalysis and behaviorism, specifically how extinction is comparable to repression. In 1934, Kubie supported the French’s ideas with suggestions of Pavlov’s hypothesis of some associations exist outside of the individual’s awareness due to their inhibitions could be treated using the free association technique from psychoanalysis to remove such unconscious obstacles (Goldfried and Newman, 1992).

Another attempt, Rosenweig (1936) wrote an article suggesting three common factors; (1) the therapist’s personality affected the effectiveness of treatment; (2) interpretations are helpful because they help to reframe one’s problems; and (3) when change occurs in one area of functioning, it often affects other areas of psychological and behavioral functioning. This hypothesis was the first evidence of the common factors that had been investigated in a greater depth since the 1960’s.

Dollard and Millers’ (1950) book Personality and Psychotherapy were a landmark in the history of Integrative Psychology’s movement in time. The book described how psychoanalytic concepts such as regression, displacement, and repression may be conceptualized within the framework of the learning theory. They stressed there is certain factory common to all therapeutic approaches such as empathy, reinforcement for attempts at changing behavior, and installation of hope. In support of Herzberg’s (1945) assertion that homework can be used to compliment psychoanalysis in which they state, “behavioral changes must be made in the real world of the patient’s current life. If benevolent changes are to occur, the patient must be doing something new” (Dollard & Miller, 1950, p.319).

The most significant movement of Integrative psychology occurred in the 1960’s with one of the most important contributions by Frank (1961) Persuasion and Healing addressing the common factors across orientations. In this, he stated psychotherapy intended to produce corrections in the individual’s conception of themselves and others. Instillation of hope can create an increase of the individual’s self-esteem and improved functioning. During this decade a magnitude of practitioners and theorists suggested the use of pure-form approaches to psychotherapy lacked efficiency to treat all clients in all contexts, and that integration of the therapies would be inevitable(Alexander, 1963; London, 1964; Marks & Gelder, 1966; Rogers, 1963; and Wolf, 1966). They acknowledged with an integration would be challenging, they believed the commonalities could increase a practitioner’s repertoire of theories, techniques, and interventions from a more integrative framework.

Within the Integrative Psychology movement, Lazarus’ approach suggested therapists could utilize techniques from other schools of psychology without assimilating the theory associated with the approach developing a multimodal therapy in the 1970’s. Lazarus brought the techniques empirically validated to incorporate into the treatment of the client. During the 1970s several articles and books written explored common ideas between behaviorism and psychodynamic theories in which they complement each other (Bergin, 1971; Marks, 1971; and Woody, 1971).

Concepts of rapprochement occurred during this time of shift from the opposition to explore more in-depth the commonalities between the orientations which led to a substantial amount of literature on these topics (Wachtel, 1975), therapeutic integration (Applebaum, 1976; Strupp, 1976; and Wandersmann, Poppen, & Ricke, 1976, and convergence of clinical procedures. Lazarus published Multimodal Behavior Therapy six years later refining the broad spectrum approach to behavior therapy to take into account for the individuals behaviors, sensations, affects, interpersonal relationships, and drugs/physiological states (Goldried & Newman, 1992, p. 58).

Goldfried (1980) had suggested a comparative analysis between theories could be identified between specific techniques and theoretical underpinnings of theories, which was termed ‘clinical strategy.’ Other secondary integrative theories involving Existential, cognitive-behavioral, Gestalt, and neo-Freudianism were under evaluation for their ability to compliment each other with integration with the original ‘Big Three’ schools of psychology, humanistic, psychodynamic, and behaviorism. Communications started between researchers and practitioners expanded into the international arena. Some books were published addressing eclectic approaches (Beuler, 1983) based on what techniques could be used for different types of clients with certain therapists, which during this time client-technique matching emerged and conceptualization of treatment. One example of this was Fensterheim and Glazer (1983) identified a psychoanalytic approach could be used to formulate assessment hypothesis while the behavioral approach could be integrated to encourage behavior changes.
In 1988, NIMH sponsored a workshop in psychotherapy integration. It was their belief that “treatments of greater efficacy, efficiency, and safety will result from efforts to integrate the best elements from different school of psychotherapy.

In addition, research on integrated treatment models may lead to the development of a comprehensive model of psychotherapy process that will have a solid empirical backing” (Norcross & Goldfried, 1992, p. 4).Other topics, such as psychopharmacology treatment, spirituality, alternative wellness models, and cultural and ecological dimensions of human development were discussed in terms of psychological assessment and treatment. Multicultural concepts were employed in greater detail, and different modalities of treatment (i.e., individual and marital/family counseling) were emerging. Then towards the end of the 1980’s, the focus on the development of empirical methodology emerged stronger than ever.

The 1990’s proved to be a move towards empirically supported or validated treatment models, known as EVT. The American Psychological Association has supported the call for EVT’s, which represent treatment programs for specific disorders that have shown to have significant effectiveness via well-designed and controlled outcome studies. However, most of these treatment models are behavioral or cognitive-behavioral with a spattering of interpersonal therapy and brief dynamic therapy (Glass, Arnkoff, & Rodriguez, 1998). This movement has proven to be an area of hot debate, as integrative theorists have argued that manualized treatments for specific disorders will hinder the integrative movement by reducing the innovative work of those therapists trying to match treatment to a client’s problems. Others are concerned that EVT may squelch dialogue regarding common factors, prescriptive matching, and newly developing integrative therapies (Garfield, 1998). Yet other integrationists feel that EVT will force the Integrative Psychology field to attend to the discrepancy between research and practice, which may prove beneficial in the long run (Goldfried & Wolfe, 1998; Shohan & Rohrbaugh, 1996).

Now, in the new millennium, research and theory is focusing on the development of different routes towards integration. Discussion of the current key areas of investigation is also beyond the scope of this article. Briefly, those areas are; (1) combining techniques from existing approaches; (2) prescriptive matching and eclectic psychotherapy, including client-treatment matching, systematic treatment selection, and multimodal therapy; (3) common and specific change factors across different pure-form therapies; (4) psychotherapy derived from integrative theories of psychological disorders; and psychotherapy derived from integrative models of therapeutic change, including the transtheoretical approach, cognitive analytic theory, process-experiential therapy, and EMDR and reprocessing (Glass et al., 1998).

Integrative Psychology is a continuously developing theoretical orientation with roots spanning over 70 years. As psychology’s understanding of the person continues to expand, the need for an integrative orientation will increase because of its ability to hold all domains of an individual’s holistic existence in a coherently conceptualized construct. Such an approach affords psychologists the opportunity to utilize a variety of traditional treatments with alternative modalities of complementary techniques. All this, while maintaining a firm stance in a sound understanding of the uniqueness and contextual processes of the client and the therapeutic relationship. I shall end with a poignant quote, as it sums up the intention of this article. Greben (2004) writes, “Proponents of both traditional and newer unimodal psychotherapeutic disciplines can well remain highly valued within this broader integrative clinical…context, with the relevance of their approaches to general [psychological] care reaffirmed rather than threatened” (p.245).

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The History of Therapy. (2020, Sep 18). Retrieved from

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