The drama imbedded in theories of human pain, suffering, change, and development rivals anything Hollywood has to offer. These theories are revealed in great literature, in myth, in religion, and in our dominant political and social systems. They directly influence the ways we treat each other, including our definitions of mental health and mental illness, as well as our ideas about helping, rehabilitation, and even culpability for distress. What makes people tick? What messes up their minds, lowers their productivity, destroys their fragile relationships? What makes or breaks an individual?
What causes one person to live a simple and cheerful life, while another claws his or her way ruthlessly to the top? What makes some people come out stronger after facing tragedy or hardship, while others are weakened or destroyed?
If you’ve come this far in your studies of psychology and counseling, you know there’s no single answer to these questions. It’s commonplace for mental health professionals to strongly disagree with each other on just about every topic under the sun. Therefore, it should be no surprise that this book—a book about the major theories and techniques of psychotherapy and counseling—will contain stunning controversies and conflict.
This book itself may be controversial. Often, there are vast disagreements among individuals claiming to believe in the same theory. In the following pages, we’ll do our best to bring you more than just the basic theories about how humans change; we’ll also bring you some of the excitement associated with the history and practice of these theories and techniques of human motivation, functioning, and change.