ERIC Number: ED282158
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Apr
Reference Count: 0
The Experiential as a Unifying Construct in Psychotherapy.
Bohart, Arthur C.
Although the importance of an experiential component in differing approaches to psychotherapy has been acknowledged, confusion over the concepts of "experience" and "emotion" has resulted in a focus on emotion rather than experience. The fundamental change event in psychotherapy is a kind of experiential learning or reorganization, and while theoretical knowing is abstract and intellectual, experiential knowledge is stored in sensorimotor schemas and includes visual images, auditory images, kinesthetic sensations, and bodily and visceral events. Behavior in everyday life situations is largely a matter of experiential knowledge. Experiential reorganizations can occur at the experiential/perceptual level and when they do, one "knows how" to do something. This kind of learning takes place in therapy. A conceptual understanding alone is not likely to guide behavior; conceptual understanding must make a change at the experiential level. There are various ways to create experiential learning in psychotherapy. It can be hypothesized that cognitive, affective, and behavioral methods all work therapeutically to the extent that they facilitate experiential learning and experiential reorganization. Experiential knowledge may represent a tacit level of knowing, with conscious, verbally articulated cognition being based on and derived from representations already tacitly encoded at the experiential level. This view supports the opinion that therapy operates on "the unconscious." (NB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Psychological Association (67th, Long Beach, CA, April 23-26, 1987).