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Frank, K.A. (1990). Action Techniques in Psychoanalysis—Background and Introduction. Contemp. Psychoanal., 26:732-756.

(1990). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 26:732-756

Action Techniques in Psychoanalysis—Background and Introduction

Kenneth A. Frank, Ph.D.

INTEREST IN INTEGRATING PSYCHOANALYTIC with action techniques has received increasing attention in recent years (Arkowitz & Messer, 1984) ; (Wachtel, 1977), (1987). My personal interest in psychotherapy integration stems from extensive experience over the years with psychosomatic patients, who often have a limited capacity to benefit from psychoanalytic treatment (Frank, Heller & Kornfeld, 1979) ; (Nunez, Frank & Kornfeld, 1987) ; (VandenBos & De Leon, 1988).

This paper will first address some of the resistances among psychoanalysts to integrating action techniques with psychoanalysis. Discussing a number of recent theoretical developments, I hope to show that many of these resistances are no longer valid, but are vestiges of the past. I will illustrate how behavioral interventions can have substantial impact upon intrapsychic processes. Describing how a new, more integrative relational approach lends itself well to the use of action techniques, I will outline an integrative approach which I have found useful, and will illustrate this approach with clinical material.

The obstacles to formal psychotherapy integration are considerable,


The author wishes to express his appreciation to Paul L. Wachtel for his thoughtful reactions to an earlier draft of this paper.

0010-7530/90 $2.00 + .05

Copyright © 1990 W. A. W. Institute

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Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 26, No. 4 (1990)

1 For editorial purposes, the abbreviated term "action techniques" is used throughout the paper to represent the full complement of cognitive-behavioral techniques. For example, see Beck (1976), Beck, Rush, Shaw & Emery (1979), Ellis (1975), Marks (1981), and Meichenbaum (1977).

2 Within psychoanalysis, as in psychotherapy more broadly, there are many forms of conceptual and technical integration; unless otherwise specified, I will use the term "integration" to refer specifically to that between psychoanalytic and cognitive-behavioral techniques.

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