Chapter 13: Treatment of Psychological Disorders

Kristin Wissler

This chapter discusses both the psychological and biomedical therapies used to treat psychological disorders.

Key Words

Psychoanalysis-Sigmund Freud's therapeutic technique. He believed that the patent's free associations, dreams, resistances, and transference-and the therapist's interpretation of them-released previously repressed feelings, allowing the patient to gain self-insight. Psychodynamic therapy is derived from psychoanalysis.

Behavior therapy-Therapy that applies learning principles to the elimination of unwanted behaviors.

Cognitive therapy-Therapy that teaches new, more adaptive ways of thinking and acting; based on the assumption that thought intervene between events and our emotional reactions.

Biomedical therapy-Prescribed medications or medical procedures that act directly on the patient's nervous system.

Key People

Sigmund Freud-Developed psychoanalysis and influenced the development of psychodynamic therapy.

Carl Rogers-Developed client-centered therapy and created the concept of active listening.

B.F. Skinner-Studied behavior.

Ivan Pavlov-Studied behavior.

Major Concepts


  • Developed by Freud
  • Emphasizes childhood experiences as the cause of present troubles
  • Utilizes free association; saying whatever comes to mind, no matter how trivial
  • Therapist interprets meaning, gives patient insight
  • Psychodynamic therapy is now more commonly used

Humanistic Therapies

  • Client-centered therapy: Developed by Carl Rogers, focuses on the person's conscious self-projections, therapists listens and does not interrupt
  • Active listening and unconditional positive regard are big components

Behavior Therapies

  • Focus on treating phobias and anxiety disorders (counterconditioning is used)
  • Exposure therapies: Expose people to fears in hopes of desensitizing people to them
  • Aversive conditioning: Making a positive response to a harmful stimulus (alcohol) negative (usually only works in the short run)

Cognitive Therapies

  • Teaches people new and adaptive ways of thinking

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies

  • Focus on changing thinking and behavior

Alternative Therapies

  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Triggering eye movement to reduce anxious thoughts, its effect has been disputed
  • Light exposure therapy: Using timed daily doses of intense light to help relieve seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that arises during the winter months

Biomedical Therapies

  • Prescribed medications or medical procedures that act directly on the patient's nervous system
  • Antipsychotic drugs: Used to treat schizophrenia and other severe thought disorders, may produce tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movement of facial muscles, tongue, and limbs)
  • Antianxiety drugs: Control anxiety and agitation
  • Antidepressants: Drugs used to treat depression and anxiety, including selective-serotonin-uptake-inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Eletroconvulsive therapy (ECT): A form of treatment for severely depressed patients which involves sending a brief electric current through a patients brain
  • Psychosurgery: Surgery that removes or destroys brain tissue, used only as a last resort

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