Molnos, A. (1998): A psychotherapist's harvest

(45) CORRECTIVE EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE

Alexander and French enunciated their concept of corrective emotional experience as the fundamental therapeutic principle of all etiological psychotherapy. In their definition it means "to reexpose the patient, under more favorable circumstances, to emotional situations which he could not handle in the past. The patient, in order to be helped, must undergo a corrective emotional experience suitable to repair the traumatic influence of previous experiences." (Alexander & French, 1946, p.66). They also pointed out that "intellectual insight alone is not sufficient", a statement with which nowadays most psychotherapists agree. The first and most important corrective emotional experience occurs at the outset of a successful BDP after the patient has given up his resistance, gets in touch with his true feelings and expresses them in the here-and-now.

However, corrective emotional experiences occur throughout the therapeutic process, whenever the patient experiences the therapist as someone who reacts to his true self, his true feelings and hitherto forbidden thoughts differently from the pathogenic parent. Finally, such experiences will occur outside therapy as well, once the patient starts discovering that, owing to his changed behaviour, people react to him and treat him differently than in the past. Overall, the genuine relationship between the patient and the therapist, and its constancy, is in itself the corrective emotional experience.

See also index: BREAKTHROUGH, CURATIVE FACTORS, INSIGHT, THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIP, TRIAL THERAPY. The next pathfinder entry is (46) CORRECT COGNITIVE RECOGNITION.