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An integrative model of psychological change: New experiences and meanings of experiences (NEMES)

An integrative model of psychological change: New experiences and meanings of experiences (NEMES)

A model of change is proposed that incorporates the major means of therapeutic action in both contemporary relational psychoanalysis and other forms of psychotherapy, allowing for a model of psychotherapy integration. Psychoanalysis has moved from the interpretation-insight model to one characterized more accurately by new experiences and new meanings of experiences. Whereas psychoanalysts agree that new meanings of experiences lead to change, recent literature has increasingly focused on new experiences themselves as central to therapeutic action. This paper will review this change in psychoanalytic thinking and show how a model of new experiences and new meanings of experience summarizes change in psychoanalytic, cognitive-behavioral, and experiential therapies as indicated in the author’s book. The interpretation insight model of change in psychoanalysis waned as more attention was focused on the relationship with the therapist, nonverbal experiences.

A ‘new experiences’ model of change allows for integration of the various models of psychotherapy and their techniques. Change occurs with the top-down processes of conscious attempts as suggested by cognitive therapies to alter thoughts, feelings, images, and behaviors interacting with bodily sensations. Other bottom- up processes encouraged by experiential and affect-oriented therapies allow for processes that may not be fully conscious. Such a model of change provides an umbrella for psychoanalysts, cognitive-behavioral and experiential therapists. For a comprehensive theory of therapeutic action, either psychoanalysts must account more fully for other routes to change or experiential and cognitive-behavioral therapies must incorporate better ways of helping patients gain access to unconscious factors affecting their experiences