Psychotherapy researchers have traditionally focused on therapy outcomes outside of the therapeutic setting. This presents the difficulty of correlating outcomes with what goes on in the clinical setting, a nearly impossible task. It is no surprise, consequently, that therapists have seen such research as largely irrelevant to clinical practice. In a quest for greater understanding Al Mahrer asks - why should we continue to exclusively use traditional research methods if they do not provide therapists with data on effective therapeutic methods? Considering this, Mahrer proposes an alternative approach to the meaning of psychotherapeutic change and its measurement. The keystone of his method is a conceptually sound in-therapy change paradigm based on experiential-humanistic theory but useful is a wide range of therapeutic approaches. Three new meanings of psychotherapeutic change, drawn mainly from psychotherapeutic practice, are introduced as a basis for conducting in-therapy research. First, careful study should allow the therapist to predict possible ways of being and becoming for the patient. A second consists of identifying moments in a session where something good is happening. Third, Mahrer proposes to study the statements of therapists as prescriptions for change. Using illustrations from psychotherapeutic sessions, the author demonstrates how this done.
About the Author:
Dr. Mahrer was a Professor Emeritus at the University of Ottawa. In 1954, he graduated from Ohio State University with a doctorate in clinical psychology, went to work at the VA Hospital in Denver, and became president of the Colorado Psychological Association. In 1967, he became Professor and Clinical Director at Miami University, Ohio, and later, he held the same positions at the University of Waterloo. He became Professor at the School of Psychology, University of Ottawa in 1978. Dr. Mahrer received many awards and acknowledgments throughout his career. In 1975, he was made a fellow of the American Psychological Association. In 1992, he won the Award for Excellence in Research from the University of Ottawa. A session of Dr. Mahrer conducting Experiential Psychotherapy was videotaped for posterity by the APA in their initial series of Psychotherapy Masters in 1992. In 1997, Dr. Mahrer received the Distinguished Psychologist Award from the American Psychological Association, Division 29. In 2002, Dr. Mahrer won the Living Legend in Psychotherapy Award from the American Psychological Association, Division 29. In 2006, Dr. Mahrer was awarded with the Rollo May Award for Pursuit of New Frontiers from the American Psychological Association, Division 32. Dr. Mahrer wrote over 300 journal articles and 20 books on psychotherapy research, his model of Experiential Psychotherapy, the Experiential model of personality development and transformation and philosophy of science. He continued his work, both in writing and discussion until his death. His final book is in press (2014). His work was his passion, and was the very centre of his life.