Motivation in Psychotherapy

Martin Grosse Holtforth and Johannes Michalak

in The Oxford Handbook of Human Motivation

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195399820
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Motivation in Psychotherapy


Motivational issues are central to human life. Correspondingly, they are also central to the challenging endeavor of psychotherapy. Assisting patients to change involves motivational issues at various levels and at various stages of therapy. Patients might be more or less motivated to begin and to participate in the different stages of psychotherapy (therapy motivation). Besides these differences in therapy motivation, an understanding of the broader concepts of motivation in psychotherapy should mandate that motivational issues be considered in the treatment of all patients and not only in those with obvious deficits in therapy motivation: Motivational issues influence the therapeutic relationship, they should be considered in tailoring specific interventions, and they might be important factors for the onset and maintenance of psychological disorders. This chapter presents theoretical and empirical background information and illustrates therapeutic approaches for dealing with patients’ motivation. Moreover, it summarizes the implications of basic and clinical research for a motivationally informed psychotherapy.

Keywords: motivation; goals; psychotherapy; treatment; psychopathology

Article.  16591 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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