Experiential Psychopathology - Dr John Howells

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III - Family Psychology & Family Psychiatry - Psychotherapy

Benexperiential Psychotherapy


Psychotherapy is the treatment of the psyche, individual or group, by any means. A psychotherapist is the person in immediate direction of the treatment.

In benexperiential psychotherapy, treatment consists of the use of a new beneficial experience. The advantageous experience is the therapy. Psychonosis, in an individual or in a family, is the result of malexperience, adverse experience in the past, adverse experience in the present, or the interaction of both. In contrast to the adverse psychonotic process, benexperiential psychotherapy utilises an experience which is to the advantage of, favourable to, the individual or family psyche – hence “benexperiential” therapy.

The general aim of benexperiential therapy, as in all forms of family therapy, is to produce a harmoniously functioning family in the situation within which it lives. What is harmonious in one situation may not be so in another. The standards in relation to “harmony” depend on what is regarded as harmonious or healthy at the present time in a given culture; today’s “healthy” family may well be regarded as “unhealthy” by future standards, or in other cultures.

All programmes of benexperiential therapy must make a flexible use of all the types of treatment available. All the types to be mentioned shortly can be used together. The type predominant at a particular moment is the one that best meets a particular situation. This flexibility extends also to the simultaneous, or successive, employment of vector therapy. Benexperiential psychotherapy and vector therapy (also an experiential therapy) are complementary.

One of the lessons of family diagnosis, as well as of family psychotherapy, is the realisation that psychic events precipitate organic pathology. That psychotherapy aims at offering psychic help should not be allowed to overlook the need to offer somatic help. Psychotherapy and somatic therapy should go hand in hand. Naturally, our interest here is in psychotherapy.

Many defences are offered against revealing ignorance about psychotherapy. In discussion one may be met with the question, “What do you do?” which allows the questioner to avoid offering his techniques for scrutiny. Other defences evoke the use of a flood of vague, ambiguous intellectualisations which bemuse, befog, or overawe the listener. Yet another escapes to the select circles and the dogma of certain schools of psychopathology. Yet another meets any information with “I do all that”. Here reliance is made on a simple exposition of the principles of benexperiential psychotherapy – revealing some knowledge and some deficiencies. The latter will be made good in time.

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