What Should CBT practitioners learn from The Psychoanalyst Paul Wachtel or The concept of Exposure to Emotions as a development in CBT and as a potential bridge to an integrative model
An abstract of a paper submitted to the 2013 EABCT conference
In this paper we will review the extensive work done by Paul Wachtel,
A prominent psychoanalyst of the Intersubjective School. Wachtel, PhD, is CUNY Distinguished Professor in the doctoral program in clinical psychology at City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has been a leading voice for integrative thinking in the human sciences and was a cofounder of the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration.
During his extensive exposure to various schools of psychotherapy,
Wachtel identifies an accusatory, all- knowing stance that the therapist may adopt, both in some classical dynamic approaches and in some stages of the CBT process. Wachtel suggests refraining from a stance such as this in favor of adopting a more flexible, humble position. To establish a better connection with the patient and enhance the results of therapy, Wachtel suggests focusing on emotional aspects. Wachtel claims that the experiential nature of a session conducted within the framework of a behavioral approach, which is what he liked the most as a problem was not just discussed but also “met”, was lost when the emphasis shifted to cognitions alone. Wachtel proposes that anxiety arises not only via external stimuli, but from fear of fully encountering our own diverse range of emotions. In accordance, he suggests that exposure techniques be used to expose the patient to the emotions that evoke anxiety so they can learn to cope with them and contain them more effectively.
Wachtel’s position is on par with Barlow and his unified protocol, whilst simultaneously remaining true to the core of psychoanalytic work.
Our paper will include vignettes’ from clinical work as conducted in Rolnick’s clinic