Chapter 14. Theory of Supportive Psychotherapy

Arnold Winston, M.D.; Michael Goldstein, M.D.
DOI: 10.1176/appi.books.9781585623648.371297



Supportive psychotherapy is a broadly defined approach with wide applicability that uses direct measures to ameliorate symptoms and maintain, restore, or improve self-esteem, ego function, and adaptive skills (Pinsker 1994; Pinsker et al. 1991; Winston et al. 2004). Self-esteem involves the patient's sense of efficacy, confidence, hope, and self-regard. Ego functions or structural functions include relation to reality, object relations, defenses, regulation of impulses and affects, thinking, and others (Bellak 1958; Beres 1956; Winston et al. 2004). Adaptive skills are actions associated with effective functioning. To accomplish these objectives, treatment involves examination of symptoms, relationships, everyday functioning, and patterns of emotional responses and behaviors.

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Figure 14–1. Psychopathology–psychotherapy continuum.
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Table 14–1. Theoretical approaches
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Table 14–2. Components of the structural approach (ego and superego)
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Table 14–3. Components of the therapeutic relationship
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Table 14–4. Learning theory technique


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