Psychology (PSYC) 630

Talking Cures: The Evolution of Psychotherapy (Revision 2)

Revision 2 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

Delivery Mode: Individualized-Study

Credits: 3

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Program: Master of Arts Integrated Studies

check availability

**Note: Students in Group Study courses are advised that this syllabus may vary in key details in each instance of the course. Always refer to the Moodle site for the most up-to-date details on texts, assignment structure, and grading.**


Psychology 630 is a study of the past history and emerging trends in psychotherapy. It traces the development of human change therapy back to the beginnings of recorded history and forward to our postmodern era. It looks at the evolution of our insights into human nature through both Eastern and Western philosophies. It considers issues of separation and convergence within the discipline.

It is assumed that students of Psychology 630 have some historical background in the area of psychology in general on which to build. This might come through either a History of Psychology or History of Ideas course or, ideally, through both. A general knowledge of basic psychological constructs through one or more additional psychology courses is also expected. MAIS 601: Making Sense of Theory in the Arts and Social Sciences, is a very useful preparation course.

Course Objectives

This exploration of the history and development of psychotherapy is designed to help students achieve the following objectives:

  • understand the origins of psychotherapy's central concepts from an interdisciplinary perspective.
  • recognize the cross-disciplinary intellectual foundation upon which Freud built his psychoanalytic theory.
  • appreciate the contribution of Jung and Adler and their relation to Freud, and identify the current directions in psychotherapy that derive, at least in part, from their respective ideas.
  • outline the contribution of the psychoanalytic ego psychologists and follow their ides through to their current manifestations in modern European psychotherapies.
  • recognize the rationalist foundation of the psychoanalysis (e.g. gestalt, existential and humanistic) as well as the empiricist foundation of North American psychotherapies (e.g. behavioral, rational-emotive and cognitive-behavioral), and be able to trace influences of the major contributors to both streams of thought.
  • explore the evolution of the role of will from St. Augustine down through its apparently contradictory bifurcation into both determinist (e.g. behaviorist) and nondeterminist (e.g. humanistic) streams of thought.
  • identify the basic differences between naïve, radical and neobehaviorist theories and recognize what each has contributed to contemporary behavior therapy.
  • explain the similarities and differences between rational-emotive and cognitive- behavioral therapies.
  • understand how humanistic psychology evolved from existential psychology and the Rationalist tradition of thought.
  • recognize the current Zeitgeis,t which informed the development of postmodern therapies.
  • appreciate the fundamental differences in mindset which underlie Western and Eastern psychotherapies, and what possibilities, if any, exist for future integration of key concepts.
  • explore some emerging postmodernist therapies including feminist, narrative and cross-culture models.
  • discuss the viability of feminist psychology as a general therapeutic approach.
  • imagine the possibilities for the integration of modernist and postmodernist psychotherapy models in the West.

Student Evaluation

To receive credit for this course, students must participate in the online activities, successfully complete the assignments, and achieve a final mark of at least 60 per cent. Students should be familiar with the Master of Arts—Integrated Studies grading system. Please note that it is students' responsibility to maintain their program status. Any student who receives a grade of "F" in one course, or a grade of "C" in more than one course, may be required to withdraw from the program.

The following table summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weights associated with them.

Course Activity Weighting
Essay 1 20%
Essay 2 30%
Essay 3 40%
Participation 10%
Total 100%

Course Materials

The package you will receive should contain each of the items listed below.


  • Corsini, Raymond J., & Wedding, Danny (Eds.). (2008). Current psychotherapies (8th ed.).

Athabasca University Printed Materials

Course Guide: The Course Guide contains the course introduction, objectives, reading assignments, online participation activities, assignments and evaluation criteria, and other information that you will need to complete the course successfully.

Reading File: The Reading File contains selected articles from various sources that are required reading for this course.

Athabasca University Online Materials

Course Home Page: You will find Course Information at the top of the course home page. You will find your assignments and links to submit your work to your professor on the course home page.

Athabasca University Library: Students are encouraged to browse the Library's Web site to review the Library collection of journal databases, electronic journals, and digital reference tools:

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, February 1, 2007.