PSYCH404: Psychotherapy

Course Syllabus for "PSYCH404: Psychotherapy"

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Psychotherapy refers to the practices clinical psychologists use to treat mental disorders. While “therapy” can denote any intervention undertaken with the goal of healing someone (including medicinal treatments for physical problems), psychotherapy is specific in that it uses certain cognitive, behavioral, and emotional regulation techniques. Based on pop culture portrayals of psychotherapy, you may be imagining a patient lying on a couch, talking freely about whatever is on his or her mind, while a doctor scribbles notes. While there is some truth to this portrait, it is an obvious oversimplification. Psychotherapy often involves a pre-defined set of techniques that a counselor will use in order to solve the problems that his patient is encountering. These techniques often vary from therapist to therapist and depend on which school of thought the therapist subscribes to, that is, which perspectives he or she has adopted in order to explain the causes of and appropriate treatments for various disorders. For example, therapists from the schools of Psychoanalysis and Behaviorism will differ greatly in terms of how they approach and treat an individual suffering from anxiety. We will spend a substantial amount of time addressing each of these schools of thought, acknowledging that each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Psychotherapeutic treatments will also vary based on the nature of the patient’s disorder. While it may seem obvious that a therapist will treat Schizophrenia differently than he would Depression, it should be noted that different mood disorders are treated differently. We will discuss various approaches to these disorders, familiarizing ourselves with the theories that support their practice. You should also be aware that while a therapist may recommend a particular treatment, it is often the patient that has the final say in how he will be treated. Therapy is, after all, a personal process for both the patient and clinician. This course will provide you with an introduction to the theories, styles, and methods of psychotherapy that you would need to know in a clinical situation. Feel free to look back on PSYCH304 (“Clinical Psychology”) as it will help remind you of the mental disorders referenced in this course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • define psychotherapy and describe the historical development of its practice;
  • identify the qualities most useful in a psychotherapist;
  • discuss the different ways in which psychotherapy affects both patient/client and counselor/therapist;
  • describe how each theory/therapy conceptualizes a) human nature, b) psychopathology, and c) the therapeutic change process;
  • identify the major therapeutic techniques used to promote change in each type of therapy;
  • compare and contrast individual theories/therapies with family theories/therapies; and
  • describe a) the important historical figures associated with each theory and b) the historical context in which the theory emerged.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g.,Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    be competent in the English language;

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook; and

√    have completed all courses listed in the Core Program of the Psychology Discipline. This requirement only applies to those students who are seeking the equivalency of a Full Psychology Degree. If taking this course as an elective, you must only have completed PSYCH101.

Course Information

Welcome to PSYCH206. Below, please find some general information on the course and its requirements.

Course Designer: Helena (Mimi) Martin

Primary Resources: This course is composed of a range of different free, online materials. However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

  • PubMed Central (provides open access to a variety of journals in the area of science/psychology)
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Lerner’s TV’s version of University of Houston: Dr. Richard Kasschau’s Lecture Series Introduction to Cognitive Psychology 
  • Wikibook’s Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Zain Books’s version of Virtual University of Pakistan’s Cognitive Psychology
  • Oakland University: Professor Cindy Sifonis’s Cognitive Psychology Lecture Series

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials. You will also need to complete a final exam.

In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 86 hours to complete. Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself. For example, Unit 1 should take you 11 hours. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to progress through/complete subunits 1.1  and 1.2 (a total of 6 hours) on Monday/Tuesday night; subunit 1.3 (a total of 5 hours) on Wednesday/Thursday night; etc.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.