Mental Disorders and Treatment

ISSN: 2471-271X

Open Access

Effects of Observation on the Psychotherapeutic Process Revisited: Brief Report


Jack Demick and Casey Marks

With the advent of one-way mirrors, videotapes, smartphones with filming capabilities, and other audio-visual devices, much research has been conducted on the effects of observation on the psychotherapeutic process. However, as outlined by Zinberg , this research has traditionally focused on the ways in which observation affects isolated processes in both therapists (e.g., concentration) and patients (e.g., defense mechanisms) or simply on participants’ (patients, trainees)experience of observation with both sets of participants reporting favorable attitudes. In contrast, the present work describes a case study in which the in vivo non-participant observation of an ongoing therapy case led to extremely positive therapeutic benefits for the patient. Underlying processes (e.g., life review, mindfulness, self-other differentiation) and mechanisms (e.g., activation of self- and relational observation, elaboration of affect-laden material) as well as implications for therapy, education, and research are discussed.


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