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December 1975

Differences Between Behavior Therapists and Psychotherapists

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(12):1517-1522. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760300055003

• Patient-therapist interaction patterns of three experienced behavior therapists and three matched analytically oriented therapists were compared. Each therapist saw ten patients in short-term individual therapy.

The more active behavior therapists dominated the conversation in terms of speech time, more frequently offered explicit advice and instructions, gave more direct information, presented their own value judgments, and exerted greater control over the content of the interaction than did psychotherapists. Although both groups provided a warm and accepting atmosphere, behavior therapists showed higher levels of accurate empathy, interpersonal contact, and therapist self-congruence. Patients viewed behavior therapists as more authoritarian and believed that psychotherapists encourage greater independence.

It was concluded that the two therapy approaches to patients were consistent with the theoretical models of each.