Abnormal Psych Each of the

Behaviorism focuses almost exclusively on the outward manifestations of mental illnesses. Underlying emotions, childhood memories, and dreams are trivialized in order to focus on bad habits or dysfunctional behaviors. Behavioral therapy employs methods based on classical and operant conditioning including systematic desensitization and aversive conditioning. Talking therapy is not an integral part of behavioral interventions.

Cognitive therapies may, however, combine both talking therapy with behavioral techniques. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a specific subset of cognitive psychology and includes interventions like rational-emotive therapy. The methods used by cognitive-behavioral therapists encourage the client to address and change faulty thoughts, irrational beliefs, and other underlying cognitions. The ultimate goal is to change behavior as well. Cognitive psychologists may focus more exclusively on altering negative thought patterns such as guilt and self-hatred. The therapeutic intervention acknowledges the role that childhood upbringing and repressed anxiety plays in the creation of mental illness.

However, cognitive psychologists are not necessary concerned with the existential issues addressed by the humanistic and transpersonal schools of thought.

Finally, the biomedical school of thought is similar to behaviorism in that talking therapy is not a primary part of treatment. Therapeutic interventions emphasize medications such as anti-psychotic or anti-anxiety drugs that target specific neurological imbalances (Lazarus & Coleman 1995). The biomedical school can easily be combined with other schools of thought and indeed many therapists blend treatment modalities when addressing their clients needs.


Lazarus, a.A. & Coleman, a.M. (1995). Abnormal Psychology., London and New York: Longman.

“Psychological Therapies.” Retrieved May 8, 2010 from

“Psychology Schools of Thought in the United States” (nd). Psychological Health Care. Retrieved May 8, 2010 from

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