List of Psychology Terms




The physiological and psychological reaction to an expected danger, whether real or imagined.

Art Therapy


Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that combines the creative process of art making with the theories of psychology.



Style of interpersonal interaction where both the needs of the self and others are considered.  (As opposed to passive or aggressive)



The strong bond a child forms with his or her primary caregiver.

Behavior Therapy


The application of behavioral theory (e.g. conditioning, reinforcement) in the treatment of mental illness.



A relaxation and training technique that teaches control of physiology such as blood pressure, sweat, heartbeat, muscle tension, skin temperature and breathing. Electronic monitors are used to allow an individual to observe physiological state and attempt to control it consciously.

Bulimia Nervosa


Bulimia nervosa is characterized by repeated episodes of binge eating and then purging in an attempt to prevent weight gain.



The process of receiving, processing, storing, and using information.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy


Treatment involving the combination of behaviorism (based on the theories of learning) and cognitive therapy (based on the theory that our cognitions or thoughts control a large portion of our behaviors).

Cognitive Therapy


The treatment approach based on the theory that our cognitions or thoughts control a large part of our behaviors and emotions.  Therefore, changing the way we think can result in positive changes in the way we act and feel.



The physical act resulting from an obsession. Typically, a compulsive act is done in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort created by an obsession.

Defense mechanism


A method mobilized by the Ego in response to the internally-felt alarm signal of anxiety as a protection against both internal and external threats. Defense mechanisms are indispensable but may become dysfunctional in cases of massive employment of such mental processes.

Drug Therapy


The use of medication to treat a mental illness.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)


The awareness of and ability to manage one's emotions in a healthy and productive manner.



Causal relationships of diseases; theories regarding how the specific disease or disorder began.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)


A method of psychotherapy that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.

Family Therapy


Treatment involving family members which seek to change the unhealthy familial patterns and interactions.



The feelings, thoughts, and behaviors associated with not achieving a particular goal or the belief that a goal has been prematurely interrupted.

Group Therapy


Psychotherapy conducted with at least three or four non-related individuals who are similar in some are, such as gender, age, mental illness, or presenting problem.



The decrease in response to a stimulus due to repetition (e.g., not hearing the ticking of a clock after getting used to it)



A deep state of relaxation where an individual is more susceptible to suggestions.



A trained and often licensed therapist who utilizes the therapeutic technique of hypnosis as part of a treatment regimen.



Direct training of the brain that challenges the brain to better function - a form of Biofeedback. Electrode sensors are applied to a subjects scalp and the EEG signal from the brain is then monitored via a computer after the signal is first amplified. This signal is interpreted by software which provides immediate reward or challenge to the brain through the form of visual, audible or tactile feedback that is often presented as an engaging video game. This feedback is used to encourage the brain to operate at desired amplitudes and frequency ranges. Neurofeedback training has many therapeutic applications including ADHD, PTSD, Autism and more.

Panic Attack


A period of extreme anxiety and physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, shakiness, dizziness, and racing thoughts. Initial attacks are often reported to feel like a heart attack due to the heart palpitations. A medical exam should be conducted to rule out any such condition.



The process of organizing and using information that is received through the senses.



Negative beliefs, attitudes, or feelings about a person's entire character based on only one characteristic. This belief is often based on faulty information.



In Psychoanalytic Theory, the defense mechanism whereby we transfer or project our feelings about one person onto another.



A medical doctor with training in mental illness.

Psychoanalytic Theory


Theory developed by Freud consisting of the structural model of personality, topographical model of personality, defense mechanisms, drives, and the psychosexual stages of development. The primary driving force behind the theory is the id, ego and superego and the division of consciousness into the conscious mind, the pre/subconscious, and the unconscious.

Psychodynamic Therapy


A modern adaptation of psychoanalytic therapy which has made sometimes minor and sometimes major changes to Freud's original theories.




The study of emotion, cognition, and behavior, and their interaction.



Break from reality, usually identified by hallucinations, delusions, and/or disorientation.



The treatment of mental illness or related issues based on psychological theory.

Psychotropic Medication


Prescription medication used primarily to treat mental illness.



A defense mechanism where one believes or states an acceptable explanation for a behavior as opposed to the real explanation.



Anything that follows a behavior that increases the chances of that behavior occurring again.




A defense mechanism where one reverts to an earlier stage of development.



In Psychoanalytic Theory, the defense mechanism whereby our thoughts are pulled out of our consciousness and into our unconscious.



In psychoanalysis, the client's refusal to participate in a therapeutic intervention due to underlying issues unrelated to the intervention.

Rorschach Inkblot Test


A projective technique utilizing ambiguous inkblots as stimuli.



The defense mechanism where we push unacceptable thoughts out of consciousness and into our unconscious.



Transference describes how we unconsciously treat the people in our current lives as though they were somebody other than themselves.

Type A Personality


A theory used to describe a person with a significant number of traits focused on urgency, impatience, success, and excessive competition.




Type B Personality


A theory used to describe person with a significant number of traits focused on relaxation, lack of urgency, and normal or reduced competition.



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