Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP) has been founded by Robert Kohlenberg and την Mavis Tsai at the University of Washington in 1991. Its principles are linked to B.F. Skinner’s theory about Radical Behaviorism. FAP uses Behaviorism to create a safe and warm therapeutic relationship.
Therapeutic relationship plays a central role. The basic assumption is that the client’s difficulties in outside relationships are going to be shown in therapy as well.
The FAP therapist creates a context where he/she invites the client to step outside his/her comfort zone and receive the authentic positive reinforcement.
The client feels present, connected, accepted, cared for and is encouraged to express himself/herself genuinely.
FAP is not only a therapeutic approach. It is a way of living. It does not focus on symptoms management. Attention is given to the way the client interacts with the therapist and with other persons in his/her life. The client is reinforced to act according to his/her values, to take risks and to be aware of his/her behavior. Giving meaning to the behaviors is another important aspect in FAP.
To sum up Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP) consists of these ingredients:
- Therapeutic relationship is the vehicle for client’s change
- The client’s shaping starts in session. The therapist observes the client’s behaviors and links these behaviors to outside ones
- Through positive reinforcement the client is encouraged for change
- Awareness, courage and love are basic clinical tools
- Context is crucial for change. The therapy room and the client’s life are two parallel contexts
- Both client and therapist are prompted to take risks and get outside their comfort zones
- Therapy focus on here-and-now and out-and-then
- Therapy is completed when the client exhibits the goal behaviors inside and outside the session (with the therapist and the significant others)