A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z


Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)

A third generation CBT which aims to help clients make fuller contact with the present moment through both acceptance and mindfulness of private experiences, and a commitment to behavioural change

Activity scheduling

A cognitive behavioural technique in which clients are encouraged to plan and monitor their daily activities


An anxiety disorder characterised by a fear of being in situations in which escape might be difficult or embarrassing

Alliance rupture

A tension or breakdown in the collaborative relationship between client and therapist

Anorexia nervosa

An eating disorder characterised by low body weight, body image distortion, and an intense fear of gaining weight

Anxiety disorders

A group of psychological difficulties characterised by persistent feelings of apprehension, tension or uneasiness, which disrupt daily functioning

Anxiety management

A therapeutic programme for generalised anxiety disorder which incorporates a range of cognitive and behavioural elements, such as relaxation, education about anxiety and acquisition of coping strategies

Applied muscle tension

A specific behavioural intervention for blood-injury phobias, in which the person is taught a muscle tensing procedure to reverse a drop in blood pressure and prevent fainting

Applied relaxation

A behavioural therapy programme in which clients are taught to identify signs of anxiety, relax themselves through a sequence of tensing and relaxing muscles ('progressive relaxation'), and then to apply these skills to real life situations

Aptitude-treatment interaction (ATI)

A phenomenon in which clients with particular qualities and characteristics do better in a particular form of therapy than others

Art therapy

A form of psychotherapeutic practice that use such media as paintings, drawing, crayons and clay for therapeutic purposes

Attachment style

Individuals' particular patterns of behaving, thinking and feeling in close relationships

Axis I disorder (DSM)

A clinical syndrome, such as social phobia or major depressive disorder

Axis II disorder (DSM)

A personality or developmental disorder, such as borderline personality disorder or autism

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A form of self-help therapy based around the use of written materials

Bipolar disorder

A category of mood disorders characterised by the presence of extremely elevated moods, often alternating with depressive episodes

Bulimia nervosa

An eating disorder characterised by binge eating followed by problematic compensatory behaviours to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting

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Clinically significant improvement

Movement from within the range of scores for a clinical population to the range of scores for a non-clinical population

Cochrane review

A UK-based series of systematic reviews evaluating the efficacy of healthcare interventions (see

Cognitive analytic therapy

A brief psychotherapy developed by Anthony Ryle, which integrates a range of cognitive and analytical concepts and practices to help clients understand maladaptive patterns and their origins, and develop alternative strategies for living

Cognitive restructuring

See cognitive therapy

Cognitive therapy

A range of therapeutic practices that try to produce change by directly influencing thinking

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)

A range of techniques and therapies that try to produce change by directly influencing thinking, behaviour or both

Cohen's d

A commonly used effect size measure, indicating the amount of difference between two groups relative to 'background' variation: a d of .2 can be considered 'small', a d of .5 'medium,' and a d of .8 'large'

Coital alignment technique

A sexual position which is designed to improve a woman's chance of orgasm during genital intercourse

Communication training

See social skills training

Community reinforcement approaches

A therapeutic programme for substance abuse problems which uses a range of behavioural strategies to increase individual and social rewards for sobriety, while reducing rewards for drinking


The presence of more than one form of severe psychological distress in an individual at the same time

Complicated grief

(Aka pathological grief) A grief response that is of greater intensity than normal, has a longer duration, is associated with more complications, and interferes more with daily functioning

Component study

Studies which look at the efficacy of particular aspects of therapeutic practice: 'additive' designs look at the effect of adding a particular practice, while 'dismantling' designs look at the effect of taking away a particular practice


Being freely and deeply oneself in a relationship, with one's experiences accurately represented in awareness

Contingency management

A behavioural therapeutic approach which uses positive rewards to reinforce the achievement of positive changes

Control group

A group of individuals with characteristics similar to those in the 'experimental group', but who do not participate in the procedure being tested

Coping skills training

A range of techniques and therapeutic programmes that aim to help clients develop their abilities to cope with particular stressors or difficult situations


The degree of association between two variables, ranging from 1 (total positive association) to -1 (total negative association), with 0 indicating no relationship between the two variables


Therapists' reactions to clients that are based on therapists' unresolved conflicts

Cue exposure

A form of behavioural therapy for substance use problems, in which clients are exposed to stimuli associated with the problematic behaviour (for instance, a syringe or a wine glass) until the desire to use subsides

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Dance movement therapy

A form of psychotherapeutic practice based around the use of movement and dance


A single session early intervention in which traumatised individuals are encouraged to emotionally process their experience through recollection or reworking of the traumatic event


(Aka major depression/depressive disorder, unipolar depression) A mood disorder characterised by the existence of one or more depressive episodes (in the absence of manic episodes), in which the person experiences low mood or loss of interest, accompanied by such symptoms as low energy, changes in appetite, poor concentration, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and suicidal ideation

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)

A third generation CBT developed by Marsha Linehan and colleagues for the treatment of borderline personality disorder, which emphasises behavioural change, self-acceptance and emotional regulation

Discourse Analysis

Discourse Analysis is a term used to describe a range of research approaches that focus on the use of language.

More information (pdf).


A psychotherapeutic practice that incorporates such media as performance, drama games and improvisational exercises

Drop out

Generally defined as failure to attend a last scheduled visit, or as withdrawing from therapy before a therapist thinks the client should have


One of the most widely-used systems of diagnosis: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association; now in its 4th edition ('DSM-IV')

Duluth model

A feminist-informed, psycho-educational group intervention for male perpetrators of domestic violence

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Eating disorders

A group of psychological difficulties characterised by compulsions to eat, or to not eat, in ways which disturb physical and psychological wellbeing

Effect size

A measure of the strength of relationship between two variables (for the purposes of this book, used synonymously with Cohen's d)


The extent to which an intervention, when used under ordinary circumstances, brings about a desired effect


The potential to bring about a desired effect

Emotion-focused therapy

See process-experiential therapy


Entering the private perceptual world of another and having an accurate, felt understanding of their experiencing


Based on concrete experiences or observations, as opposed to purely theoretical conjecture: not to be confused with 'empiricism', a branch of philosophy that considers experiences or observations as the only true source of knowledge


A set of behavioural therapeutic technique in which anxiety is purposefully evoked through confrontation with a situation that produces fear

Experiential therapies

See humanistic therapies

Exposure and response prevention treatment

Confrontation with feared situation whilst being encouraged to desist from engaging in ritual or compulsive behaviours

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

A psychological treatment aimed to help clients overcome distress associated with traumatic experiences, in which clients are invited to focus on an external stimulus, such as a moving object in front of their eyes, while attending to emotionally disturbing material

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Family therapy

A set of therapeutic practices which focus on 'treating' the family rather than any one specific individual


Information provided to a person, from an external source, about the person's behaviour or the effects of that behaviour

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Generalised anxiety disorder

An anxiety disorder characterised by excessive and uncontrollable worry over everyday things, such that daily functioning is interfered with

Gestalt therapy

A humanistic, relationally-orientated psychotherapy which invites clients to participate in a range of creative 'experiments' (such as two-chair dialogue) to help them develop their here-and-now awareness and live more fully in the moment


Distress resulting from a bereavement

Grounded Theory

The grounded theory method was developed in the 1960s by two American sociologists, Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss, as a new way to develop theory in their discipline.

More information (pdf).

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Hierarchy of evidence

A means of grading the strength of evidence, based on the susceptibility of research findings to bias. The following hierarchy (in descending order of importance), outlined by Eccles et al. (1998), is used as the basis for the UK Department of Health's (2001: 18) clinical practice guidelines for psychological therapies and counselling, and is the approximate order of weighting for the present text:

Ia Evidence from meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials
Ib Evidence from at least one randomised controlled trial
IIa Evidence from at least one study without randomisation
IIb Evidence from at least one other type of quasi-experimental study
III Evidence from descriptive studies, such as comparative studies, correlation studies, and case-control studies
IV Evidence from expert committee reports or opinions, or clinical experience of respected authority or both


A method used to induce a trance-like state of heightened suggestibility


Any therapy that uses hypnosis as a main technique


A tentative explanation of certain observations or facts

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In vivo exposure

Therapeutic confrontation with the actual situation that produces fear

Imaginal exposure

Therapeutic confrontation with a visualised image of the situation that produces fear


A patient who resides at the institute in which he or she is being treated

Interpersonal therapy (IPT)

A structured therapy that evolved, primarily for research purposes, to operationalise the basic principles and practices of an interpersonal approach to psychodynamic therapy


Therapist statements which go beyond what the client has overtly recognized to suggest new understandings of experiences

Interoceptive exposure

Therapeutic confrontation with the bodily symptoms that produce fear

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Masturbation training

A treatment approach in which women (or men) are encouraged to learn about their bodies and relax to the point that they can experience orgasm


The mathematic average of a set of scores, calculated by summing the scores and dividing by the number of scores

Mediating variable

A factor that accounts for the relationship between two variables


A statistical procedure which pools findings from different studies to estimate overall effects

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy

A third generation CBT programme for clients with 'treatment-resistant' depression, which teaches them meditation skills to help them disengage from dysfunctional thought patterns

Moderating variable

Factors that affect the relationship between two variables

Motivational interviewing

A client-centred but semi-directive therapeutic style that works to enhance clients' intrinsic motivations to change

Motivational enhancement therapy

A time-limited, four session adaptation of motivational interviewing, in which clients are given feedback based on individual results from standardised assessment measures

Music therapy

A form of psychotherapy in which practitioners interact with their clients through a variety of musical media, such as music-making, singing and listening to music

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Narrative Inquiry

Narrative inquiry is a means by which we systematically gather, analyse, and represent people’s stories as told by them, which challenges traditional and modernist views of truth, reality, knowledge and personhood.

More information (PowerPoint).

National Institute of Mental Health Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program (NIMH TDCRP)

One of the largest and most discussed randomised controlled trials in the counselling and psychotherapy field conducted in the 1980s, which compared the efficacy of CBT, interpersonal therapy, antidepressant treatment and a placebo control for the treatment of depression

Neurolinguistic programming (NLP)

A contemporary therapeutic approach emphasising, amongst other things, modelling individuals who achieve excellence, and matching therapists' communications to clients' 'preferred representational system'

Non-directive counselling

See person-centred therapy


A therapeutic stance in which the practitioner tries to refrain from directing his or her client in any particular way

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An eating disorder in which there is a high body weight due to an excessive accumulation of fat

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

An anxiety disorder characterized by intense, recurrent, unwanted thoughts and rituals


A patient who does not reside at the institute in which he or she is being treated

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Panic control treatment

A therapeutic treatment for panic disorder which uses a range of cognitive and behavioural strategies

Panic disorder

An anxiety disorder characterized by episodes of intense fear or anxiety, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat and dizziness: the frequent co-existence of panic disorder with agoraphobia (the fear of being in public places in which escape might be difficult) means that panic disorders are sometimes categorised in terms of being with, or without, agoraphobia

Paradoxical interventions

Therapeutic interventions in which therapists seem to take an 'antitherapeutic' stance vis-à-vis the client's problems

Personality disorders

Constellations of relatively enduring, maladaptive traits that can result in significant subjective distress and functional impairment: see Table 4.1 for the DSM-IV taxonomy of personality disorders


The probability that a particular difference between groups has come about by chance


Clients' beliefs about the origins of their distress and what they expect will be helpful to them

Premature ejaculation

A sexual dysfunction characterised by the inability to delay ejaculation for as long as would be wanted

Problem-solving therapy

A behavioural therapeutic programme in which clients are taught a set of skills that can be used to effectively address problems and difficulties


A form of dramatherapy in which participants have an opportunity to explore, through enactment in a group, problems and issues in their lives

Positive regard

A warm acceptance of the other and their experiences without conditions

Post-traumatic stress disorder

An anxiety disorder that follows from the experiencing of a traumatic or highly stressful event, characterised by intrusive and distressing memories of the event, jumpiness, numbness, and attempts to avoid anything associated with memories of the event

Process-experiential therapy

(Aka emotion-focused therapy) A relatively new form of humanistic therapy, which incorporates a range of gestalt and related techniques into a person centred, relational foundation

Project MATCH

The largest randomised trial of verbal therapies to date, conducted in the 1990s, which examined the effectiveness of CBT, motivational enhancement therapy and twelve-step facilitation for alcohol problems, finding equivalence across the therapies and no evidence of aptitude-treatment interactions


A form of psychodynamic psychotherapy that adheres closely to Freud's original formulations, with two or more sessions per week and treatment duration of a year or more.

Psychodynamic therapy

A family of psychological therapies which aim to help clients develop a greater awareness and understanding of the unconscious forces determining their thoughts, feelings and behaviours


A range of educational strategies used to inform people about their problems and how to overcome them

Psychological mindedness

A person's ability to understand people and their problems in psychological terms

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Quantitative research

Number-based research, generally incorporating statistical analysis

Qualitative research

Language-based research, in which experiences, perceptions, observations, etc. are not reduced to numerical form

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The process of assigning research participants to treatment or control conditions by chance, to minimise the likelihood of systematic differences between groups

Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT)

(Aka randomised clinical trial) An experimental study in which participants are randomly assigned to two or more groups, such that the efficacy of the different interventions can be identified

Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT)

An early form of cognitive-behavioural therapy which puts particular emphasis on the disputation of irrational or dysfunctional beliefs


A term drawn from the medical field, indicating a return to psychological ill-health following a period of improvement

Relapse prevention

Therapeutic programmes incorporating a range of behavioural and cognitive strategies to try and help clients refrain from relapsing into problematic patterns of behaving, thinking or feeling

Relaxation training

See applied relaxation

Reliable improvement

Positive change on an indicator of psychological distress that can not be attributed to random measurement error


A systematic process of inquiry that leads to the development of new knowledge

Researcher allegiance effects

The tendency for researchers to 'find' results that support their own beliefs, expectations or preferences


Client behaviour that exhibits a reluctance to participate in the tasks of therapy

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A severe form of psychological distress characterised by 'positive symptoms' (such as hallucinations) and 'negative symptoms' (such as emotional withdrawal)


Therapist statements that reveal something personal about the therapist


(Aka self-injury) Deliberate injury or hurt inflicted by a person upon her or his own body

Self-involving statements

A form of self-disclosure, in which the therapist expresses their personal response to the client in the here-and-now

Sensate focus exercises

A series of exercises aimed to address sexual difficulties, which encourage partners to take turns paying attention to their own sensations

Significant differences

A meaningful and important difference between two or more groups that is unlikely to be due to chance variations

Social phobia

(Aka 'social anxiety') An intense and persistent fear of being evaluated negatively by others

Social skills training

An individual or group behaviour therapy practice, in which individuals are taught to communicate and relate more effectively

Solution focused brief therapy

A contemporary therapeutic approach that uses a range of strategies to help clients focus on strengths and solutions rather than problems

Specific phobias

(Aka 'simple phobias') A group of anxiety disorders characterised by an excessive fear of specific objects or situations, such as chickens


Squeeze technique

A technique commonly employed for premature ejaculation, in which pressure is applied to the penis to retard ejaculation

Standard deviation

A measure of the spread of a set of data, larger standard deviations meaning that the scores are more dispersed

Substance abuse

Excessive use of, and dependence on, a psychoactive substance, leading to detrimental effects on an individual's mental or physical wellbeing

Supportive-expressive therapy

A short-term, psychodynamically-derived therapy that combines interpretative interventions with supportive, alliance-fostering techniques

Systematic desensitization

Gradual exposure to a feared stimulus, generally in imagination, while in a state of deep muscle relaxation

Systematic Reviews

A systematic review is an overview of primary research studies conducted according to explicit and reproducible methodology which provides a rigorous method of summarising research evidence.

More information (pdf).

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Therapeutic technique

A well-defined procedure implemented to accomplish a particular task or goal

Therapeutic alliance

The quality and the strength of the collaborative relationship between therapist and client

Third generation cognitive-behaviour therapies

(Aka third generation behaviour therapies) A new wave of cognitive-behavioural therapies which, although highly structured and focused on behaviour change, tend to emphasise an acceptance, and mindfulness, of cognitions and experiences, as opposed to the suppression or control of 'negative' thoughts

Transactional analysis

A therapeutic orientation based around a number of specific psychological concepts developed by Eric Berne and colleagues in the mid-twentieth century, incorporating psychodynamic, humanistic and cognitive-behavioural elements


The process of transferring to and repeating early patterns of behaviour with present day partners

Transference interpretations

Interpretations that help the patient to understand the link between their interactions with the therapist and the interactions they experience with others

Twelve step facilitation

A brief, structured approach to facilitating recovery from substance use problems based on the principles of twelve step programs

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A psychological problem in which the muscles around the vagina tighten involuntarily

Virtual reality exposure

Confrontation with a simulated version of a feared object or situation: for instance, simulated flying

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This Glossary is reproduced with kind permission of Sage Publications. Taken from Cooper, M. (2008) 'Essential Research Findings in Counselling and Psychotherapy: The Facts are Friendly' London: Sage. For more information click on the following link: