Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Acceptance of Complexity in Psychotherapy

Mardi Horowitz

Animals Animality and Literature book cover

Psychotherapy is fundamentally complex, because it depends upon how communication affects a patient’s conscious thinking and feeling as well as non-conscious mental meaning systems. To find paths through this complex forest, waves of psychotherapists have formed directions of theory and practice. Sometimes the groups on a path shout out, through the thickets, news to other path seekers. That is one reason seasoned clinicians within a school now hope to add additional techniques and ways of individually formulating each case.

I had a relevant research experience involving psychologists and psychiatrists seeking to combine diverse methods. Thanks to support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation we shared records and sought a common language about identity and relationship patterns. We wrote a book called “Person Schemas and Maladaptive Interpersonal Relationship”.   The relevant part of that title is schemas, a common cognitive science term.

Schemas theory is an umbrella for structures and motives that can cover attachment, bonding, transference, dissociation, splitting, identity and other aspects of personality theory. Using such a common language we can work across schools of therapy, schemas therapy, ACT, DBT, CBT, psychodynamic therapy for example.  All involve new experiences and learning about self and others as well as cultural values and supports for identity and self-esteem.

While I wrote Adult Personality Change in Psychotherapy for Cambridge from my psychoanalytic experiences, I used a common terminology to forge a possible connection to what the reader has learned in other schools of training. The book also has a glossary that can be used in teaching integrated theories.


About The Author

Mardi Horowitz

Mardi Horowitz, M.D. is a distinguished Professor of Psychiatry UCSF. ...

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