Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 185–194 | Cite as

You’ve Got to Believe: Core Beliefs that Underlie Effective Psychotherapy

  • James C. Overholser
  • Abby Braden
  • Lauren Fisher
Original Paper


A mixture of core beliefs may lay the foundation for effective psychotherapy. Sincere trust in these beliefs may help to promote therapeutic change. The therapist must have faith in the power of words to promote change. Clients usually change in a gradual manner, and the initial plan for therapy can be simplified by focusing on strategies for changing actions and attitudes. Also, therapy can help to improve various aspects of clients’ intimate relationships. However, before attempting to promote therapeutic change, it is important for the therapist to begin by understanding the client’s life situation, current distress, and natural tendencies. Clients benefit from emotional tolerance of stressors by recognizing that many negative life events turn out better than initially expected. A tendency to dwell on past events can perpetuate problems, while it can be more helpful to accept and grow from negative events. Therapists are encouraged to view a client’s emotions as natural reactions, not deviant dysfunctions that need to be blocked or suppressed through medications. In a similar manner, most labels, including many psychiatric diagnoses, pose a danger through societal discrimination and self-stigma. When therapists adopt these core beliefs, they can more effectively help clients move forward, making adaptive psychological changes.


Psychotherapy Process Alliance 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • James C. Overholser
    • 1
  • Abby Braden
    • 1
  • Lauren Fisher
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

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