The practical implementation of the Unified Theory of Cognitive Psychology (UTCP) in a clinical or other therapeutic environment follows four phases: Identification, Analysis, Selection, and Implementation. These four phases are based on the underlying theoretical foundations which are outlined on the UTCP theory page, which you can read here: The Unified Theory of Cognitive Psychology
UTCP Theory Summary
UTHP Treatment Summary
The basis of the treatment process for UTHP is schematic reconstruction. This is a process that’s been documented in Schematic Therapy, but with a more core focus. It’s changing how the person perceives their relationship with and capacity within their external environment.
UTCP is a solution-focused process. We don’t talk about the cause, just finding a solution.
Dysfunction occurs when a person’s schematic map is ineffective in fulfilling their psychological needs.
Psychological needs are part of a person’s schematic map. The treatment process involves changing their perceptions of their psychological needs by finding more effective ways to change them.
The purpose of the treatment process is to help someone create a schematic map where their psychological needs are fulfilled to a level where they’re no longer creating mood or affective disorders, by helping them find more effective ways of fulfilling them.
A person’s schematic map is made up of their psychological needs. Not all schematic maps. Just their self-world interaction schema.
General Remarks About the Process
Your goal is never to tell the person what is wrong. It’s always to help them discover what is wrong. This means that you don’t tell the person what is wrong with their
For example, you don’t tell someone that their goal and strategy for fulfilling their need for power is ineffective, you ask the question “Does that sound like a very effective goal for experiencing power?”.
This is important for two reasons. The first is because one of the common characteristics amongst ineffective goals and strategies is dependence. The person is dependent on elements outside their control so they can fulfil their psychological needs. If you tell the person what’s wrong and how to fix it, you may be providing a solution to their immediate challenge, but you’re not assisting their progress in overcoming the root cause of their long-term challenges, which is their dependence on other people.
The second reason this is important is that some of the common disfunctional goals and strategies that people you’re treating might have are those related to not being told what to do by other people. If you tell someone that their goal for fulfiling their need for power is ineffective, they may react by telling you’re wrong, not because you’re actually wrong, but simply because that’s part of their process for fulfiling their need for power or freedom is related to proving they’re right. IF you tell them they’re wrong or a failure, they may reject your ideas just out of habit. But, if you ask them to asses their pathway for fulfilling their need, you can circumvent that reaction and help them make more progress.
Why is UTHP effective?
The primary reason why the UTHP treatment protocol works more effectively than other behaviroual change protocols is that it works with the law of least effort, rather than against it. It identifies how the participant can get what they want with less hard work and cognotive load, rather than trying to convince them not to pursue their goals or providing them with more taxing and cognitively challenging solutions.
Perception and Processing Psychopathology
UTHP isn’t effective at eliminating perceptual and processing disorders such as schizophrenia, autism, and dyslexia. Though, it is effective at significantly reducing the cognitive, attention, behavioural, affective, and mood comorbidities of these conditions.
Phase 1. Script Identification
Goal: Identify the desired psychological need and the goal and the strategy that the person is attempting to use to fulfil their psychological need
The first phase in the implementation of UTHP is Script Identification.
A Script is the basic framework that guides a person’s thoughts, decisions, and actions, and includes:
- Their current primary psychological need
- The goal they believe will fulfil their psychological need
- The strategy they are using to achieve their goal
When working with a client in a clinical or other therapeutic environment, the first phase of implementing PNST is to identify these three elements.
This will help both you and the client to understand the core drivers of their thoughts, decisions, and actions.
There are a number of strategies you can use to assist in this process. You can read them here.
Technique: Ask questions. If they’re unable to articulate something that is obvious to you, state what you’re hearing and ask for clarification.
Phase 2. Script Assessment
Once you have helped the patient identify their current Script, the second phase is to have the client assess that Script for its effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability, and independence.
This will allow the client to see how their thoughts, decisions, motivations, and actions are responsible for their challenges and issues.
You can read about the strategies for this implementation here.
One important point in UTCP that differentiates it from other psychological transformation processes is that it doesn’t focus on causality. At no point in time does it attempt to identify why a client has developed their Script. This is for two reasons.
The first reason is that for most conditions, there is no direct one-to-one relationship between a specific event and the development of a Script. It may have started with an event, but that event then needed to be interpreted in a specific way and then that intepretation needed reinforcement over a long period of time before it became so deepy ingrained that it became a default pathway.
The second is that for the conditions that are created by a specific and identifiable event or series of events, such as PTSD and dissociative identity disorder, there not situations someone would choose to put themselves into and so identifying the cause does not help the client make better choices in the future.
And finally, most of the time, when people are attempting to identify the cause of a Script, they’re attempting to do so so they can find someone else to blame for the Script. They want to be able to blame other people for their cognition, attention, behaviour, affect, and mood (CABAM). Blaming other people for their CABAM does not in any way support their restructuring of their Script (in fact it actively slows down the process) and so as it is not necessary or useful, it is not part of the transformation process.
Phase 3. Script Selection
Once the client is aware of their current Script, how it’s driving their thoughts, decisions, and actions, and how it’s creating the challenges for which they are seeking a remedy, the next phase is to identify a different Script that will more effectively help them satisfy their needs.
You can read the strategies for that here.
Phase 4. Script Implementation
Identifying a more effective Script will provide the client with a more effective pathway for removing their life challenges, but know what to do and how to do it are two separate things.
To make sure your client can implement this Script in their life, the final phase is to provide them with strategies for overcoming their (usually) unconscious actions and applying your new Script.
You can read about how to do that here.
Psychological needs are part of a peson’s schematic map. Schema can’t be separated from memory. They’re the same thing. Spreading Network theory of memory identifies that memories are create by information nodes that are connected by branches between those nodes. The more branches to the nodes, the easier it is to recall that information. This means that the way to construct or reconstruct a peson’s schema (and therefore, fulfil their psychological needs) is to provide new information and then continually link that information to new environments, settings, and situations. Over the long run, this will build a schema that includes this new information (the desired psychological need) as the core of the schema.
Acceptance and action. 3rd wave therapy. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an example of this implementation.