March 1967

Psychotherapy, Learning Theory, and Insight

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(3):304-311. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730210044008

LEARNING may be defined as the Process by which changes occur in an individual's behavior as a consequence of his reacting to encountered situations, excluding, of course, those changes directly attributable to maturational processes and physical causes (toxins, drugs, injuries, etc). Psychotherapy clearly falls into this category since the therapist hopes to bring about changes in the way the patient acts, thinks, and feels in certain situations as a consequence of the psychotherapeutic encounter.

Recognizing this, many leading exponents of dynamic psychotherapy have urged that therapeutic concepts and practices be reexamined from a learning point of view, since a considerable body of experimentally derived knowledge exists concerning the learning process.1-3 The object of such a reformulation is not the reduction of dynamic concepts to learning or conditioning terms. Rather, the expectation is that viewing therapy in this additional

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