Analytical-functional psychotherapy: characteristics and uses

There is a wide range of psychological currents, from which various therapies dedicated to the treatment of different problems are derived. Currently, one of the most predominant approaches is cognitive-behavioral, focusing on mental processes and their relation to behavior.

The resulting therapies have evolved over time as a result of advances in understanding mental processes and overcoming previous limitations. One of the newer treatments is so-called analytical-functional psychotherapy.

    Functional analytical psychotherapy: its basic premises

    Functional analytical psychotherapy is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment focused on the emission of behavioral patterns and their functionality and approach based on the positive connection between therapist and patient as a mechanism of promote behavior change towards more adaptive behaviors and beliefs, As well as the importance of language.

    It is a type of therapy that is part of the repertoire of third generation behavior modification therapies. Like the rest of this type of therapy, it takes into account the context in which the behaviors take place, focuses on interpersonal relationships as a mechanism to bring improvement in the patient’s life and attaches great importance to the social environment and to communication as the elements that cause problems and which in turn can resolve them.

    He seeks to treat not the symptoms, but the cause of them. Although it is part of the cognitive-behavioral stream, it addresses and integrates concepts and ideas from other streams such as psychodynamics or systemics.

    The basis of Functional Analytical Psychotherapy is what the subject does and says in the same session, which allows us to see aspects of their performance in real life. Her behavior in consultation and the problems she manifests there will be representative of those she experiences outside of her.

    If you give them special importance for verbal behavior and how to express oneselfBecause it makes it possible to observe the type of behaviors performed as they are attributed. What is sought is that the patient makes an analysis of his own behavior and interprets its causes and, in turn, through the therapeutic relationship, the behaviors are improved and cause changes in the functionality that the subject gives to the patient. their conduct.

      The different types of clinical behavior

      As we have said, what the subject says or does in consultation is the main element with which to work in analytical-functional therapy. These behaviors that the patient exercises during the session are equivalent to those he exercises in his daily life in terms of the function that the subject confers on them. These are clinically relevant behaviors, Among which three subtypes stand out.

      First of all, the relevant type 1 behaviors or those related to the problem or disorder of the subject being treated. These are the problematic behaviors that the subject manifests or performs during the sessions. The goal is to reduce these behaviors, but for that the therapist must provoke them during the session in order to be able to work on them. Examples are addiction, over-seeking approval, or remembering certain memories.

      A second type of behavior is type two, those that generate an improvement or a different and more positive way of dealing with the problematic situation. In this case, we are dealing with behaviors that need to be improved as much as possible, in a genuine and real way.

      Finally, type 3 behaviors refer to the set of attributes or beliefs of the patient towards their own problem, Which seeks to analyze together to determine what function they perform for the subject and what circumstances generate them. In other words, why does the patient believe that he is acting the way he does and doing it in this particular way. It seeks to encourage the patient to analyze his own behavior so that it can generate positive changes.

        Elements that help classify behaviors

        The identification of the different behaviors that the subject exercises in his daily life is done mainly through the analysis of the session itself and of the language used by the patient.

        In the first aspect, they underline the emergence of elements such as the temporality of the sessions, the existence of periods without sessions or failures or successes committed by the professional. All of this will have an effect and will be indicative of how the patient is proceeding.

        In terms of language, it is relevant both what the patient says and what he does not say, and how to say it. For example, avoid talking about certain topics, whether you make or respond to requests, how you relate to yourself, or how you attribute events. The intention with which things are discussed or the function that the subject gives to language is also subject to analysis.

        therapeutic action

        During functional analytical psychotherapy, the performance of the therapist is of great importance and constitutes a basic pillar for effective therapeutic functioning.

        In this type of therapy, the professional must attend to the clinically relevant behaviors that occur during the session, as well as work on building with the patient. a positive therapeutic relationship First of all, allow problematic behaviors to be expressed and even deliberately provoke them in consultation.

        He must be able to see through the analysis of behaviors and expressions what reinforces the maladaptive behaviors and the function they have for the patient, as well as the positive behaviors to produce an improvement. It must also motivate and promote the appearance of behaviors that produce an improvement in these behaviors, in a natural way.

        Finally, it is crucial generate in the patient the ability to analyze his own behavior and visualize the equivalence between their behaviors inside and outside therapy.

        In which cases does it apply?

        Functional analytical psychotherapy has application in a wide variety of psychological problems and disorders. Its operation it is effective in treating mood problems, Self-esteem, trauma-related disorders, interpersonal relationships, and personality disorders (such as histrionic or addicted)

        Bibliographical references:

        • Ametller, MT (2012). Psychotherapies. CEDE PIR preparation manual, 06. CEDE: Madrid.
        • Fernández Parra, A., and Ferro García, R. (2006). Analytical-functional psychotherapy: a functional contextual approach to psychological treatment. EduPsych. Journal of Psychology and Education, 5, 203-229.
        • Kohlenberg, RJ and Tsai, M. (2008). Functional analytical psychotherapy. Creation of intense and healing therapeutic relationships. Biomedical science collection. University of Malaga.
        • Pagès FJ; Crusader FJ & López, M. (2005). Handbook of Modification Techniques and Behavioral Therapy. Pyramid: Madrid.

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