Action theory in clinical psychology

Research output: Contributions to collected editions/worksChapterpeer-review


The implications of action theory for understanding psychological disturbances, for the use of therapeutic techniques, and for the analysis of what the therapist is doing in therapy are discussed after a brief presentation of action theory. Actions regulated by higher levels require conscious attention to plan development, decisions, and feedback processing. Many aspects of psychological disturbances can be conceptualized as ineffective actions: unclearly formulated goals, lack of knowledge about general principles of one’s own actions and the actions of others, inadequate strategies, automatization of inadequate actions, insufficient criteria to evaluate feedback, or mistaken perception of that feedback. Adequate mastery of skills, therefore, requires a certain degree of automatization. Behavior change in the face of automaticity is possible, and action theory suggests the factors that are relevant in determining how easy or difficult this change will be. The hierarchical nature of regulatory processes has specific implications for the differential impact of therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGoal Directed Behavior : The Concept of Action in Psychology
EditorsMichael Frese, John Sabini
Number of pages15
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor and Francis Inc.
Publication date31.08.2021
ISBN (Print)9780367713980
ISBN (Electronic)9781000363760, 9781003150749
Publication statusPublished - 31.08.2021
Externally publishedYes