John Suler's Teaching Clinical Psychology

Theories of Psychotherapy
Course Outline

(PSY 305)

Dr. John Suler
Science and Technology Center
Rider University


Photo by Asia Suler


This course surveys the theories and techniques of psychotherapy, including the psychoanalytic, cognitive-behavioral. and humanistic approaches. Case studies, role plays, and in-class exercises will illustrate the principles of therapeutic change. The exercises often are experiential because they encourage students to apply psychotherapy concepts to their own lives. Students will also undertake an experiential project outside of class that will help them personally explore the psychotherapeutic process. This project is a contemporary version of an ancient practice known as the "vision quest." Participation in any of the experiential activities in this course is optional by recommended.


Madman: Strange Adventures of a Psychology Intern, by John Suler
With irreverent humor, a surreal imagination, and undercurrents of eastern philosophy, this coming-of-age novel captures the point of view of a young clinical psychologist, Thomas Holden. A keen observer with a comic eye, Holden's ongoing musings about his strange experiences with patients and staff expose both the absurdity and the idealism inherent in psychotherapy.

The Fifty Minute Hour, by Robert Lindner
In this collection of classic case studies - including a psychopath, a political radical, and a brilliant but psychotic scientist - Lindner reveals the inner workings of traditional, but also renegade, psychoanalytic methods.

Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl
A German psychiatrist, stripped of his life and imprisoned in a Nazi concentration, tells the psychological tale of what it's like to survive the camps, and proposes a theory of psychotherapy that emphasizes finding love, hope, and meaning in life.

On Life after Death
, by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

After spending decades in her pioneering work of counseling peopl who are dying, Kubler-Ross becomes fascinated by the therapeutic impact of life after death experiences.

I. The "Big Picture" of Psychotherapy

II. Psychodynamic and Eclectic Therapies (Read: Suler and Lindner)

*Midterm Exam: Lectures in I and II; Lindner book

III. Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies

IV. Humanistic-Existential Therapies (READ: Frankl and Kubler-Ross)

V. The "best" psychotherapies

*Final Exam: Lectures in III and IV

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