S. Lesse’s (1981) editorial to the 35th edition of the American Journal of Psychotherapy (no. 4) produced some interesting figures regarding the information explosion of the twentieth century. He remarked that there are now more than 62,000 scientific journals in existence so that anyone who attempts research into even a highly limited field of enquiry – one aspect of psychotherapy for example – must scan hundreds of thousands of articles to obtain a reliable overview of the given field. In terms of human resources – time, effort and endurance – the task becomes one of mind-boggling proportions. We are faced with the relentless fact that the total volume of available printed information in the world now doubles every ten years and by the year 2000 it is likely to double in just one year.
In the field of psychotherapy there are now literally thousands of journals in existence, each producing articles several times a year, whilst the number of books produced in each sub-specialty of the field every year runs into many hundred. This dictionary can therefore only be classed as a modest offering within an already burgeoning growth area of encyclopaedia, compendia and word books, all attempting to bring some order to the field and offer some maps to guide the serious student of psychotherapy over a rough and uneven terrain. Its raison d’hre stems from the rapidity with which our field has developed within the last ten years, making many excellent word books and dictionaries already out of date. Not only have a bewildering array of new therapies come on to the scene (since, for example, H.]. Eysenck’s Dictionary of Psychology was published in 1972), but the usage of terms shifts subtly in the older psychotherapies as they are influenced by and seek to influence, in an implicit two-way dialectic, the changing social, political and intellectual context in which they are embedded. The private, specialised language of our profession grows and develops with a life of its own and new entrants need to be acquainted with the current usage of its terminology as well as the vertical connections with history and the lateral connections with terms currently used across the different areas of psychotherapy. It is mainly for these that this dictionary has been prepared but I hope too that experienced practitioners who specialise in one or two forms of treatment will be intrigued and enlightened, as I have been, with the different understanding that can be gained from considering how the same technique or concept is used by theorists and practitioners from a range of different approaches.
Many problems surround the compilation of this sort of book. Selection is the obvious first and I have no doubt been biased unconsciously in what I have chosen to include and what I have left out. Consciously I have wanted to ensure the inclusion of many new ideas, forms and interventions that do not figure in older dictionaries. This means that less space has been devoted to classical concepts from the behavioural and psychoanalytic approaches. In any case, I would expect there to be less need to be comprehensive in these areas although I have tried to be representative. I have wanted to include the most important aspects of behavioural and psychoanalytic theory and practice and whilst relying heavily on secondary material, I have returned as often as possible to the original sources and to the classic texts, new and old, in order to gain as accurate a picture as possible of the current use of the term. I have tried to refer to journal articles on each subject area published during the last five years as well as to primary source material, beginning in most cases with the original writer’s early work.