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Mental Health – The Third Wave

2. The First Wave

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In this lecture, we think about the first wave of cognitive and behavioural psychotherapies, focusing in particular on: (i) the origins of behaviourist interventions as a response to criticisms of psychoanalysis; (ii) learning theory and behaviour observation as specific responses to the nature of psychoanalytic theories being difficult to empirically study; (iii) Pavlov and Skinner as key figures in early behaviourist theories; (iv) a conditioned response, defined as a response which has been learned through experience and wasn’t present beforehand; (v) avoidance behaviours that may arise in the presence of an object or situation that has a conditioned fear response, which leads to a reduction in feelings of fear; (vi) operant conditioning as an explanation for the maintenance of phobias, due to the fear reduction in the event of avoiding the conditioned fear stimulus and the lack of experience of non-fearful incidents; (vii) the technique of behaviourist therapy to expose an individual to the stimulus that triggers a fear response in situations without a negative outcome, to extinguish the negative association; (viii) a key criticism for behavioural explanations for mental health disorders centring around the phenomenon that individuals who experience the same traumatic event respond in different ways.


In this course, Dr Helen Bolderston (Bournemouth University) explores the three waves of cognitive and behavioural psychotherapy. In the first lecture, we think about the origins of cognitive therapy and behaviourist theory. In the second lecture, we think about the first wave of cognitive and behavioural psychotherapy, which focused on behaviourist views of learning and unlearning associations. In the third lecture, we think about the second wave of psychotherapies, which centred around cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Next, we think about the third wave of psychotherapies which aims to improve upon CBT by including mindfulness and acceptance. In the fifth and final lecture, we think about the real-world implications of the current state of third wave therapies.


Dr Helen Bolderston is a senior lecturer in psychology in the Department of Psychology at Bournemouth University. Dr Bolderston’s research interests lie in acceptance-based psychotherapies, processes implicated in the development and maintenance of mental health problems, and psychological wellbeing and burnout in health and social care students and professionals. Some of Dr Bolderston’s recent publications include 'Cognitive fusion as a candidate psychological vulnerability factor for psychosis: An experimental study of acute 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) intoxication' (2021) and 'Resilience and surgeons: train the individual or change the system?' (2020).

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APA style

Bolderston, H. (2022, May 31). Mental Health – The Third Wave - The First Wave [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Bolderston, H. "Mental Health – The Third Wave – The First Wave." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 31 May 2022,

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