Modeling corrective experiences as motivational mountain pass

Westermann, Stefan; Ferrari, Nicola; Caspar, Franz (26 June 2014). Modeling corrective experiences as motivational mountain pass (Unpublished). In: 45th International Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR). Copenhagen, Denmark. 25.06.2014 - 28.06.2014.

Aim: The landscape metaphor allows viewing corrective experiences (CE) as pathway to a state with relatively lower 'tension' (local minimum). However, such local minima are not easily accessible but obstructed by states with relatively high tension (local maxima) according to the landscape metaphor (Caspar & Berger, 2012). For example, an individual with spider phobia has to transiently tolerate high levels of tension during an exposure therapy to access the local minimum of habituation. To allow for more specific therapeutic guidelines and empirically testable hypotheses, we advance the landscape metaphor to a scientific model which bases on motivational processes. Specifically, we conceptualize CEs as available but unusual trajectories (=pathways) through a motivational space. The dimensions of the motivational state are set up by basic motives such as need for agency or attachment. Methods: Dynamic system theory is used to model motivational states and trajectories using mathematical equations. Fortunately, these equations have easy-to-comprehend and intuitive visual representations similar to the landscape metaphor. Thus, trajectories that represent CEs are informative and action guiding for both therapists and patients without knowledge on dynamic systems. However, the mathematical underpinnings of the model allow researchers to deduct hypotheses for empirical testing. Results: First, the results of simulations of CEs during exposure therapy in anxiety disorders are presented and compared to empirical findings. Second, hypothetical CEs in an autonomy-attachment conflict are reported from a simulation study. Discussion: Preliminary clinical implications for the evocation of CEs are drawn after a critical discussion of the proposed model.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Westermann, Stefan; Ferrari, Nicola and Caspar, Franz


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Adriana Biaggi

Date Deposited:

14 Apr 2015 14:25

Last Modified:

14 Apr 2015 14:25


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