Psychodynamizing and Existentializing Cognitive–Behavioral Interventions: The Case of Behavioral Activation (BA)

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Abstract

From the point of view of Cognitive–Existential Psychodynamics (Shahar, 2015a, 2016; Shahar & Schiller, 2016; Ziv-Beiman & Shahar, 2016), active techniques—primarily cognitive–behavioral therapy ones—might not only reduce distress but also bolster the therapeutic relationships and serve as powerful vehicles for self-discovery and growth. This, however, is contingent upon therapists’ ability to view, and present to patients, the psychodynamic and existential nature of active techniques. Our focus herein is on behavioral activation, an intervention that consists of encouraging patients to participate in enjoyable and meaningful activities, in the face of depressive anhedonia. We posit that psychodynamizing and existentializing behavioral activation has the potential to increase awareness of inner multiplicity, strengthen eco-functions, assist in creating a “holding environment,” bolster responsibility through agency, and offer a sense of transcendence. These benefits of behavioral activation are illustrated via a clinical case.

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