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Tools for Practical Psychotherapy

A Transtheoretical Collection (or Interventions Which Have, At Least, Worked for Us)


Journal of Psychiatric Practice®: January 2017 - Volume 23 - Issue 1 - p 60–77
doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000208

Background and Objectives: Regardless of their historical and theoretical roots, strategies, tactics, and techniques used in everyday psychotherapy across diverse theoretical schools contain common factors and methods from other specific psychotherapeutic modalities that contribute substantially to psychotherapy outcomes. Common factors include alliance, empathy, goal consensus/collaboration, positive regard/affirmation, and congruence/genuineness, among others. All therapies also recognize that factors specific to therapists impact treatment. Starting with these common factors, we add psychotherapeutic methods from many theoretical orientations to create a collection of clinical tools. We then provide concrete suggestions for enacting psychotherapy interventions, which constitute a transtheoretical collection.

Methods: We begin with observations made by earlier scholars, our combined clinical and teaching experiences, and oral traditions and clinical pearls passed down from our own supervisors and mentors. We have compiled a list of tools for students with foundational knowledge in the basic forms of psychotherapy, which may expand their use of additional interventions for practicing effective psychotherapy.

Results: Our toolbox is organized into 4 categories: Relating; Exploring; Explaining; and Intervening. We note how these tools correspond to items previously published in a list of core psychotherapy competencies.

Conclusions: In our view, the toolbox can be used most judiciously by students and practitioners schooled and grounded in frameworks for conducting established psychotherapies. Although they are still a work in progress, these tools can authorize and guide trainees and practitioners to enact specific approaches to psychotherapy utilizing other frameworks. We believe that psychotherapy education and training might benefit from explicitly focusing on the application of such interventions.

YAGER and FEINSTEIN: Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Please send correspondence to: Joel Yager, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, 13001 E 17th Pl, A011-04, Aurora, CO 80045 (e-mail:

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