Covert modeling and the promotion of therapeutic change: A theoretical integration of cognitive, interpersonal, and hypnotic perspectives

Elliott Stephen Bursack (1986)

Covert modeling as a psychotherapeutic tool has dramatic and long-lasting effects that can be accounted for by an integration of cognitive, interpersonal, and hypnotic approaches to understanding how people change. To explain the efficacy of this technique and its variations, as demonstrated in empirical research and clinical practice, the theory constructed here emphasizes the role of the interpersonal environment in the psychotherapy setting, the management of key attentional processes, and the development of specific anticipations that guide behavior. The theory states that multiple information fields alter the client's anticipatory schemata under conditions of lowered critical resistance to new information. The literatures on covert modeling research, hypnosis, interpersonal theory, and cognitive science, as well as my clinical experience, have provided the major resources for ideas discussed here. The theories of Bandura (Rosenthal & Bandura, 1978), Cautela (1977), and Meichenbaum (1976) that concern covert modeling are also considered. The integration of ideas represented here has implications for the efficient conduct of psychotherapy sessions and for the questions of how and why people learn.