, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 333-347

Assessing the cognitive-interpersonal cycle

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Abstract

This article argues that Harry Stack Sullivan's conceptions of interpersonal psychotherapy have a number of important implications for both the theory and practice of cognitive behavior therapy. Sullivan's formulations, while compatible with cognitive behavioral theory in many respects, add both motivational and interpersonal contexts that are missing from cognitive behavior therapy. With regard to the first theme, it is argued that Sullivan's theory on the role of anxiety in the development and maintenance of dysfunctional cognitive structures has important implications for both cognitive assessment and modification. With regard to the second theme, it is argued that the therapist's role as a participant-observer in the therapeutic relationship provides him with a valuable opportunity for identifying maladaptive interpersonal patterns and assessing dysfunctional cognitive activities that are linked to these patterns.

I would like to express my gratitude to an anonymous reviewer whose perceptive comments and suggestions on the Safran (1984) article were very helpful in writing the present article.