Prescriptive Eclectic Therapy
For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories
In Prescriptive Eclectic Therapy, Dr. John C. Norcross demonstrates this adaptable, client-focused approach to psychotherapy. This approach tailors the therapy on the basis of each client's unique needs and situation by drawing on the most effective and applicable techniques from eclectic theoretical camps. In this session, Dr. Norcross works with a 33-year-old man whose substance use and marital infidelity have resulted in problems with his relationships and career.
This video features a client portrayed by an actor on the basis of actual case material.
In this type of psychotherapy, the clinician attempts to customize psychological treatments and therapeutic relationships to the specific needs of individual patients. This is done by drawing on effective methods from across theoretical camps (eclecticism) and by matching those methods to particular cases on the basis of empirically supported guidelines (prescriptionism). The end result of prescriptive matching is a more efficient, applicable, and efficacious therapy that fits both the client and the clinician.
Three cardinal features of prescriptive eclecticism are the synergy of awareness and action, the complementary nature of psychotherapy systems, and the identification of empirical markers for selecting psychological therapies. Awareness and action are reciprocally facilitative endeavors: Awareness informs and fuels concrete actions; action propels and deepens meaningful insights. Hence, for most patients, both awareness-oriented and action-oriented methods are indicated. The ostensibly contradictory systems of psychotherapy are seen not as contradictory, but as complementary—not as a dreaded adversity, but as a welcomed diversity. All empirically supported systems of psychotherapy have a place—a specific and differential place—in the repertoire of the eclectic therapist, that place being determined by prescriptive guidelines.
Prescriptive guidelines are based on extant research and clinical acumen, in contrast to theoretical predilection or institutional custom, and are applied to both treatment methods and relationships stances. For determining the psychotherapy of choice, these guidelines include the disorder, treatment goals, motivational arousal, stages of change, and levels of change. For selecting the therapeutic relationship of choice, the guidelines include patient expectancies, reactance level, stages of change, and the anaclitic–introjective continuum.
Prescriptive eclectic therapy transcends the "dogma eat dogma" ambience that has historically hindered advances in psychotherapy and offers an integrative structure for customizing the therapeutic enterprise. The therapy is not yet another school of psychotherapy but, rather, an open system in which therapists attempt to incorporate the clinical research and wisdom of many clinicians, particularly of Beutler, Lazarus, and Prochaska and DiClemente. The prescriptive eclectic will be flexible but systematic, creative and yet empirical, in tailoring psychotherapy to the individual in his or her singular situation.
John C. Norcross, PhD, received his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Rhode Island and completed his internship at the Brown University School of Medicine. He is professor and former chair of psychology at the University of Scranton, a clinical psychologist in part-time independent practice, and an authority on psychotherapy integration and prescriptive treatments. Author of more than 100 scholarly articles, Dr. Norcross has written or edited 10 books, including the third edition of Systems of Psychotherapy: A Transtheoretical Analysis (with J. O. Prochaska) and An Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology (with Mayne and Sayette).
- Beutler, L. E., & Clarkin, J. F. (1990). Systematic treatment selection. New York: Brunner/Mazel.
- Lazarus, A. A., Beutler, L. E., & Norcross, J. C. (1992). The future of technical eclecticism, Psychotherapy, 29, 11–20.
- Norcross, J. C. (Ed.). (1987). Casebook of eclectic psychotherapy. New York: Brunner/Mazel.
- Norcross, J. C. (1991). (Special section ed.). Prescriptive matching in psychotherapy: Psychoanalysis for simple phobias? Psychotherapy, 28, 439–472.
- Norcross, J. C. (1993). The relationship of choice: Matching the therapist's stance to individual clients. Psychotherapy, 30, 402–413.
- Norcross, J. C., & Goldfried, M. R. (Eds.). (1992). Handbook of psychotherapy integration. New York: Basic Books.
- Prochaska, J. O., DiClemente, C. C., & Norcross, J. C. (1992). In search of how people change: Applications to addictive behaviors. American Psychologist, 47, 1102–1114.
- Prochaska, J. O., Norcross, J. C., & DiClemente, C. C. (1994). Changing for good. New York: William Morrow.
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