, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 559-578

Integrating affect and cognition: A perspective on the process of therapeutic change

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There is a growing recognition among clinicians of the need for a comprehensive model of emotion, which illuminates the role of affective processes in psychotherapy. In the present article, we employ a constructive model in which emotion is viewed as resulting from a synthesis of components. This emotional synthesis model is used to explore some of the ways in which “feeling” and “thinking” interact, both in clinical problems and in therapeutic change. It is suggested that many clinical problems involve a breakdown in the emotional synthesis process and that an important focus of therapy should be the integration of the different levels of processing involved in the construction of emotional experience. It is also argued that affect does not play a simple, uniform role in therapeutic change but instead should be viewed as operating in different ways in different change events. For this reason, it is important to begin delineating different mechanisms through which changes in emotional processing can bring about therapeutic change. To this end, three such mechanisms are proposed: the synthesis of adaptive emotional experience, de-automating dysfunctional emotional habits, and modifying state-dependent learning.