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Psychology and Mental Health

Chicago, USA
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On the cognitive structure of interpersonal problems treated in psychotherapy

Author(s): Horowitz LM


Examined problems in the general form "I can't . . . (do something)" that were mentioned in intake interviews by 28 patients about to begin psychotherapy. Each complaint was simplified to highlight the problem behavior, and 50 undergraduates classified the problem behaviors into semantic categories. From the results of this classification, a matrix was formed to show how often each 2 problem behaviors were classified together. This matrix was then subjected to a multidimensional scaling, which yielded three dimensions: (a) the degree of psychological involvement between the S and the other person; (b) the nature of the involvement (friendly to hostile); and (c) the S's intention to influence, change, or control the other person. In addition, a cluster analysis was performed to show the major clusters of problem behaviors (i.e., intimacy, aggression, compliance, independence, and sociability). Implications for psychotherapy research are also discussed. 

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