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A self-determination theory approach to psychotherapy: The motivational basis for effective change

by Richard M. Ryan, Edward L. Deci
Canadian Psychology ()
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The application of self-determination theory (SDT) to psychotherapy is particularly relevant because a \ncentral task of therapy is to support the client to autonomously explore, identify, initiate, and sustain a \nprocess of change. In this article, the authors discuss the experimental work, field studies, and clinical \ntrials representing the application of SDT to the domain of psychotherapy. Evidence supports the \nimportance of client autonomy for the attainment and maintenance of treatment outcomes. In addition, \nintervention studies suggest that therapist autonomy support enhances the likelihood that treatment gains \nwill be achieved and maintained. The authors discuss some of the processes involved in enhancing \nautonomy, including the role of awareness, the importance of exploring and challenging introjects and \nexternal regulations, attention to need-related goal contents, and therapist attitudes required for a therapy \napproach that is process- rather than outcome-focused.

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