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Pfeffer, A.Z. (1962). The Anatomy of Psychotherapy. Systems of Communication and Expectation: By Henry L. Lennard and Arnold Bernstein, et al. New York: Columbia University Press, 1960. 209 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 31:407-408.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 31:407-408

The Anatomy of Psychotherapy. Systems of Communication and Expectation: By Henry L. Lennard and Arnold Bernstein, et al. New York: Columbia University Press, 1960. 209 pp.

Review by:
Arnold Z. Pfeffer

This volume reports a series of studies at the Bureau of Applied Social Research, Columbia University, applying the concepts and methods of the social sciences to the study of psychotherapy and using especially concepts pertaining to the study of the face-to-face interaction and methods related to the analysis of communication. Psychotherapy is here studied as a special kind of social situation created specifically for the treatment and investigation of emotional illness.

The focus of these studies is not on therapeutic problems, content, pathology, cure, or technique; rather, they use the methods available to the social sciences to study systematically verbal communication and its role in psychotherapy. Recordings were made of eight psychotherapies (four therapists with two patients each) for a period of eight months. Before and during the psychotherapy, each patient and therapist responded to eight questionnaires and interviews.

From the analyses of questionnaires, interviews, and recordings of sessions, the authors arrive at the following conclusions. First, despite major differences in the attitudes and behavior of each therapist and each patient, there are major similarities among therapist-patient pairs in the way the interaction unfolds. This leads the authors to deny that differences in 'school', theoretical orientation, and methods of therapy wholly determine what occurs during therapy. They believe that the most important contribution of therapy is the experience, the total recurrent pattern of interaction of patient and therapist over an extended period. The similarity in therapeutic unfolding suggests to the authors that what is shared by different therapist-patient pairs may be at least as therapeutic as what is unique.

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