Changing Character: Short-term Anxiety-regulating Psychotherapy For Restructuring Defenses, Affects, And Attachment
The mechanism of emotional change is central to the field of mental health. Emotional change is necessary for healing the long-standing pain of character pathology, yet is the least studied and most misunderstood area in psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. Changing Character at its heart is about emotionhow to draw it out, recognize it and make it conscious, follow its lead and, equally important, use cognition to guide, control, and direct our emotional lives. This treatment manual teaches therapists time-efficient techniques for changing character and helping their patients live mindfully with themselves and others through adaptive responses to conflictual experiences.Leigh McCullough Vaillant, a nationally recognized expert on short-term dynamic psychotherapy, shows therapists how to identify and remove obstacles in one’s character (ego defenses) that block emotional experience. She then illustrates how the therapist can delve into that experience and harness the tremendous adaptive power provided by emotions. The result? She shows us how to have emotions without emotions having” their way with us. Vaillant’s integrative psychodynamic model holds that the source of psychopathology is the impairment of human emotional experience and expression, which includes impairment in drives and beliefs but is seen fundamentally as the impairment of affects.In this short-term approach, psychotherapists are shown how to combine behavioral, cognitive, and relational theories to make psychodynamic treatment briefer and more effective. Vaillant illustrates how affect bridges the gap between intrapsychic and interpersonal approaches to psychotherapy. Affect, she argues, has the power to make or break relational bonds. Through the regulation of anxieties associated with affects in relation to self and others, therapists can help their patients undergo meaningful character change. A holistic focus on affects and attachment has not been adequately addressed in either traditional psychodynamic theory or cognitive theory. Clearly and masterfully, Vaillant shows therapists how to integrate the powers of cognition and emotion within a dynamic short-term therapy approach.
A Practical, Integrative Approach for all Psychotherapists
By Beth K. - November 23, 1999
I teach and supervise graduate student trainees and interns in clinical/counseling psychology (MA and PsyD Level). All of my students have found that "Changing Character" has been very valuable and immediately useful to their work with clients. In this book, Valliant nicely integrates short-term psychodynamic treatment approaches with both object-relational and cognitive-behavioral research and theory. She also includes an easily understandable application of Sylvan Tomkins affect theory to this type work. Valliant offers practical examples of how to apply these concepts to real-life therapy situations. A must-have for all therapists at any level of experience who are interested in fine-tuning their technique to achieve better results for their clients who are in pain.
This book will be useful to all psychotherapists
By A Customer - January 5, 1999
In this book, Leigh McCullough Valliant shares her psychotherapy techniques for rapidly getting past defenses to feelings. Her methods will be useful both to beginning and experienced therapists, and are illustrated with dialogue from actual sessions (she routinely videotapes sessions). In these days of managed care, ways to help patients (clients) achieve deep change fast are especially needed. Although the book is full of pearls and interesting to read, my one criticism is that it is overlong. However, you can always skim any parts you find repetitious.
Doing psychotherapy has never been easier!
By A Customer - October 3, 2000
Using cognitive-behavioral techniques to understand psychodynamic concepts such as defenses/defensive behaviors, and self and other representations, and their restructuring, is such an innovative and non-psychodynamic-psychotherapist-friendly approach. Fascinated by object-relations theories, McCullough Vaillant's book is the first book that convinces me those theories are not just for reading but also for easy application in the healing process.
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