Behind every therapeutic system there are sets of assumptions and parameters from which therapists devise direction, treatment goals, and interpretation in the therapeutic process. The existing schools of therapy are classified according to differences in their fundamental assumptions, from which our major paradigms can be stated:
(1) In the Reductionist paradigm all psychological phenomena are understood in terms of elemental factors, such as chemical, biological and physiological events. Within this paradigm consciousness is not the primary focus and is treated as an epiphenomenon. Modern allopathic medicine, psychiatry, behaviorism, and psychoanalysis are based on this paradigm.
(2) The Humanistic paradigm is one which emphasizes and values the human experience without reducing it to components or regarding it as inferior to any other phenomena. Such renowned therapists as Rollo May, Erich Fromm, Carl Rogers, and Abraham Maslow rallied against the reductionist position and helped to establish the humanistic movement.
(3) The Dualistic paradigm is one which interprets experience as an interaction between two complementary principles such as material phenomena vs. consciousness, mind vs. body, yang vs. yin, and the supramundane vs. the mundane. This paradigm is more widely embraced by Eastern philosophies, such as Taoism and various Yoga schools. Carl Jung’s psychological system is explicitly supportive of this paradigm.
(4) The Monistic model assumes that there is only one fundamental principle, consciousness, and that unitary consciousness is all that exists. The assumption is that the phenomenal world is an illusory manifestation of unitary consciousness. The paradigm has been expounded by many of the great Eastern philosophical systems such as Hinduism, especially in the Vedanta philosophy and the Upanishad literature. We also have this view expounded by the early Western mystic sages; such as Plotinus, Meister Ekhart, and St. John of the Cross. Even though this paradigm is not accepted in current psychological circles, it is being strongly supported and developed in the field of transpersonal psychology, the new quantum physics, and from the ideas being developed by physicists David Boehm and Karl Pribram.
We consider these paradigms as not mutually exclusive but as conceptual models evolving from various states of awareness regarding the nature of life. Each succeeding paradigm is a progressively more comprehensive frame of reference.