Putting psychotherapy in its place: The regionalization of behavior therapy in France, Switzerland, and Belgium, 1960s–1990s

AHP readers will be interested in a new open-access article forthcoming in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences: “Putting psychotherapy in its place: The regionalization of behavior therapy in France, Switzerland, and Belgium, 1960s–1990s,” by Rémy Amouroux, Lucie Gerber, Milana Aronov. Abstract:

This article traces the history of the behavior therapy movement in French-speaking Europe between the 1960s and the 1990s, focusing on its geographically located development, whether on a national, sub- or supra-national scale. By examining the trajectories of the three main behavioral therapy associations in France, Switzerland, and Belgium, we show that it is not possible to subsume them under a common intellectual history. Despite the importance of theoretical debates in the emergence of this brand of psychotherapy in English-speaking countries, adherence to this type of explanation falls short of accounting for the differential reception of behavioral therapies in these countries. We argue that the later development of behavioral therapy in France, Belgium, and Switzerland was shaped more by professional agendas, local definitions, and regulations of psychotherapy than by “pure” theoretical commitments and conflicts between schools of thought. From a historiographical perspective, exploring the regionalization of psychotherapeutic styles thus involves contesting the idea that different therapies are mainly characterized by adherence to psychological theories and embedded ontologies of the self that are radically opposed (i.e., humanism vs. naturalism, psychoanalysis vs. behavior therapy). Localizing psychotherapies and paying attention to the varying circumstances and traditions in which they have evolved allows us to go beyond this dichotomous vision and to access a multiplicity of nondogmatic and intermediate positions that would otherwise be invisible.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.