An integrative mechanistic account of psychological distress, therapeutic change and recovery: the Perceptual Control Theory approach

Sally Higginson, Warren Mansell, Alex M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The exact nature and mechanisms of psychological change within psychological disorders remain unknown. This review aims to use a psychological framework known as Perceptual Control Theory (Powers, 1973, 2005; Powers, Clark, & McFarland, 1960) to integrate the diverse literature within psychotherapy research. The core principles of Perceptual Control Theory are explained, and key domains of psychotherapy are considered to explore how well they converge with these principles. The quantitative and qualitative empirical literature on the process of psychological change is reviewed to examine how it fits with predictions based on Perceptual Control Theory. Furthermore, the prerequisites for psychological change; client qualities, therapist qualities, the therapeutic alliance and the shifting of awareness, are also considered to examine their consistency within a Perceptual Control Theory account. Finally the strengths and limitations of a Perceptual Control Theory account in explaining the mechanism of psychological change are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-259
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Volume31
Issue number2
Early online date1 Feb 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Common factors
  • Control theory
  • Psychotherapy integration
  • Self-regulation
  • Transdiagnostic

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