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The Use of First Names in Psychotherapy

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1960;3(3):215-218. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1960.01710030001001.
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The success of psychotherapy may be jeopardized by an infinite variety of factors. These are usually introduced by the patient but may on occasion be the unconscious contribution of the psychotherapist. Inasmuch as we are concerned with the welfare of our patients, it is vitally important that we be frequently reminded that everything we do as psychotherapists should be for the benefit of the patient. Anything the therapist does that fails to meet this criterion has no place in the therapeutic setting.

Addressing adult patients by their first names has become a rather common practice—a practice that may well exert considerable influence on the course of psychotherapy. If the practice of addressing adult patients by their first names does not specifically benefit the patient, and indeed may be injurious to the goals of psychotherapy, the conscientious therapist will agree to the elimination of this practice.

An effort will


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