Monarch Psychology

Key Psychological Terms & Counselling Phrases

Archetype: In analytical psychology, an archetype is an inherited mental structure or pattern which forms part of the collective unconscious. Archetypes are only observable through their manifestations in behaviour especially that associated with ancient and universal experiences such as births, marriage, motherhood, and death.


Attachment Theory: Theory devised by psychiatrist John Bowlby in which it is proposed that a child has an inborn biological need for close contact with its mother (or primary caregiver) during the first 6 months of life. A normal bond develops if the caregiver is responsive to the infants needs. Maternal deprivation during this critical period can have adverse psychological consequences for the child’s development.


Cognitions: A term referring to the mental processes involved in acquiring and processing information including thinking, knowing, judging and problem solving.


Cognitive Dissonance: Proposed by US psychologist Leon Festinger in 1957. Cognitive dissonance is an unpleasant feeling that occurs when we hold inconsistent or conflicting ideas simultaneously. According to dissonance theory, holding both these views sets up an unpleasant state that people try to reduce by re-interpreting some part of their experiences to make them consistent with the others.


Cognitive Reappraisal: A form of emotion regulation in which an individual changes their emotional response to a situation by altering their appraisal of that situation.


Collective Unconscious: A set of primordial stories and images, hypothesized by Carl Jung to be shared by all of humanity, and which he proposed underlie and shape our perceptions and desires.


Co-morbidity: The tendency for different forms of mental disorder to occur together, in the same individual.


Conscience: The hypothesized set of beliefs and tendencies that produce a desire to act in a moral manner, and a feeling of guilt when one does not act morally.


Conscious Level: Thoughts and feelings of which one is currently aware.


Defence Mechanism: A term used originally in psychoanalysis and later more widely in psychology and psychiatry to refer to a process whereby the ego protects itself against the demands of the id. More generally, it is a pattern of feeling, thought or behaviour arising in response to a perception of psychic danger, enabling a person to avoid conscious awareness of conflicts or anxiety arousing ideas or wishes.


Delusions: False beliefs that are firmly held, often centred around ideas of persecution or grandeur.


Denial: A defence mechanism involving a failure to consciously acknowledge thoughts, feelings, desires or aspects of reality that would be painful or unacceptable.


Diathesis-Stress Model: A conjecture in psychology that many mental health disorders are caused by the interaction of genetic predispositions and precipitating environmental stress.


Displacement: In psychoanalytic theory displacement is a defence mechanism involving redirection of emotional feelings from an object/person felt to be dangerous/unacceptable to an object/person felt to be safe/more acceptable.


Dissociation: A defence mechanism in which one seeks to create a sense of physical or psychological distance from the threatening event, person or stimulus.


Drive: A term used to refer to any internal source of motivation that impels an organism to pursue a goal or to satisfy a need, such as sex, hunger or self-perseveration.


Free Association: A method use in psychoanalytic therapy in which the patient is to say anything that comes into their mind, no matter how trivial, unrelated or embarrassing.


Habituation: A decline in the tendency to respond to stimuli that have become familiar. While short term habituation dissipates in a matter of minutes, long term habituation may persist for days or weeks.


Hallucinations: A perceptual experience that appears real but does not originate from the stimulation of a sense organ. They can be experienced by a number of senses including visual, auditory, tactile (touch), or gustatory (taste).


Hypnosis: A temporary trancelike state that can be induced in normal persons. During hypnosis various hypnotic or posthypnotic suggestions sometimes produce effects that resemble some of the symptoms of conversion disorder.


Metacognition: Knowledge and beliefs about one’s own cognitive processes.


Moods: Affective responses that are typically longer lasting than emotions, and less likely to have a specific object.


Negative Cognitive Schema: For Aaron Beck, the core cognitive component of depression, consisting of an individual’s automatic negative interpretations concerning themselves, their future, and the world.


Object Relations: A school of psychodynamic thought that emphasises the real (as opposed to fantasized) relations an individual has with others.


Placebo Effect: The medical or psychological benefits of a treatment produced simply because an individual believes the treatment has therapeutic powers.


Positive Psychology: A movement within the field of psychology that seeks to emphasise in its research the factors that make people healthy, happy, able to cope, or well adjusted to their life circumstances.


Preconscious Level: Mental processes that are not currently in focal awareness, but that could easily be brought to awareness.


Primary Attachment Figure: The main person to whom an infant attaches psychologically.


Projection: In psychoanalysis, a defence mechanism in which intolerable feelings, impulses or thoughts are falsely attributed to other people.


Psychopathology: The study of mental disorder or the mental disorder itself.


Rationalization: In psychoanalytic theory, a defence mechanism in which a false but reassuring explanation is contrived to explain behaviour that in reality arises from a repressed wish.


Reaction Formation: In psychoanalysis, a reaction formation is a defence mechanism that characterises an individual doing the polar opposite of something they want to do or are thinking. For example, someone who is really angry with a work colleague, may be exceptionally friendly towards them.


Repressed Memory: In psychoanalytical theory a repressed memory is an anxious memory that has been pushed out of consciousness where it may fester until it is “recovered”.


Repression: In psychoanalytical theory, a defence mechanism in which thoughts, impulses or memories that give rise to anxiety are pushed out of consciousness.


Resistance: In psychoanalysis, a term describing an individual’s failure to free associate. The person may simply refuse to think or remember relevant experiences, or oppose changing their behaviour.


Rorschach Inkblot Technique: A personality assessment that requires the individual to look at a series of inkblots and report everything they see in them.


Schema: A mental representation of some aspect of prior experience, that is structured in such a way to facilitate perception, cognition, inferences or the interpretation of new information.


Social Learning Theory: A theoretical approach to socialisation and personality that is midway between radical behaviourism and cognitive approaches to learning. It stresses learning by observing others who serve as models and who show the child whether a response he already knows should or should not be performed.


Transference: A term used in psychotherapy to describe an unconscious process where the attitudes, feelings and desires of our earliest significant relationships are projected onto the therapist. The individual begins to experience the therapist in the same way as the significant person from their past.


Unconscious: In psychoanalysis, the unconscious level is a part of the mind containing repressed instincts, wishes, ideas, memories, and images that are not accessible to the conscious mind.