On Technical Eclecticism


  • Arnold A. Lazarus,

    Professor, Corresponding author
    1. Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick
    • 56 Herrontown Circle, Princeton, NJ 08540–2924, or to Larry E. Beutler, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106–9490

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  • Larry E. Beutler

    1. Department of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara
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Differences among unsystematic eclecticism, theoretical integrationism, and technical eclecticism are underscored. A brief case history is presented to demonstrate how and why a combination of theories, and a smorgasbord conception of eclecticism, yields clinical confusion rather than therapeutic precision. Unless counseling and psychotherapy are tied to empirical efficacy, the field is likely to become (or remain) a quasi-religious philosophy rather than a scientific enterprise. We explain why atheoretical or mechanistic procedures must be replaced by specific types of theories with a view to prescriptive matching on the basis of diagnostic entities, problem clusters, and interpersonal characteristics of clients. We contend that systematic, technical eclecticism may represent the Zeitgeist in counseling and psychotherapy well into the 21st century.