How Research Can Investigate Psychotherapy

Now to the question I have been building up to: If, for some of us, this is the nature of psychotherapy, then how can research investigate and measure it? I think that it is beginning to be investigated in two ways: first, in physiological terms, and secondly, in terms of increasingly refined observations of tape-recorded in-therapy behavior.

I want to say a few words about each of these.

Psychophysiological studies have been reported (Berlin, 1960; Matarazzo, 1958) showing that different interpersonal conditions involve different autonomic correlates. We have currently also made a start (Gendlin, 1961 c) at finding autonomic correlates of different manners of experiencing (as defined in the Process Scale) and of resulting changes.

Another line of researches shows that psychotic contents can be produced in the laboratory by inhibiting the normal interaction of person or body, as happens in dreams, hypnosis, and laboratory stimulus isolation. Psychotic contents seem to appear when stimuli for optimal interaction are reduced. Also, LSD, Carbon Dioxide, and other toxics produce them. I think it is likely that we will find, also, physical modes of restoring, rather than inhibiting, optimal organismic process, and optimal interaction.

Currently, it is true, society seems more to want to tranquilize its schizophrenics — and itself — so as to avoid, rather than restore, personal interaction and optimal physical interaction. Yet, I think physical and psychological avenues of research are increasingly defining one optimal process of organismic life, physical, subjective, and interpersonal.

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