In 1965, a video called "The Three Approaches to Psychotherapy" turned the tables for therapists-in-training. The classic film, commonly called the "Gloria video" for the female patient who appeared in the sessions, was a big step forward for teachers and students, says Ed Meidenbauer, director of APA's video media. "Before that, training psychotherapists was difficult because you couldn't show what happened behind the closed door of the therapy room."

Training videos soon became mainstream, and in the 1990s APA started its own video demonstration series. Fast forward to today, when we've moved far beyond VHS tapes and even DVDs. With the advent of streaming technology, Meidenbauer says, it was possible to compile an impressive database of training videos.

The database, known as PsycTHERAPY®, was released for sale to institutions in September and is now available to APA members in PsycNET® packages.

It fills a real need, says APA Publisher Gary R. VandenBos, PhD. "Students in training have always complained that they have needed to imagine what famous therapists actually do in psychotherapy. Videotapes make the process of learning psychotherapy much easier," he says.

While the primary audience is graduate students and their instructors, the service is likely to be useful to experienced practitioners as well. "A practitioner may want to see how a different approach looks in practice, or they may want to see how another therapist may be dealing with a specific presenting issue," Meidenbauer says.

PsycTHERAPY contains some 300 video demonstrations by more than 100 expert psychotherapists working with real-life volunteers, not actors. Those participants represent more than 50 diagnostic categories, VandenBos says, and the database is expected to grow with 40 to 80 new videos added every year.

Gone are the days of fast-forwarding videotapes or skipping through DVD menus to find relevant clips. PsycTHERAPY is designed to be user-friendly, Meidenbauer says. The database contains searchable transcripts of all the available video. Click on any word in the transcript, and the video will scroll to that exact point.

Database users can search for a specific approach, such as cognitive behavioral therapy; a topic, such as anxiety or gambling problems; or even therapeutic techniques, such as the empty-chair technique. "In addition, the database allows for rapid movement between videotapes of different therapists so that it's very easy to compare and contrast technique and style," VandenBos says.

Beyond video itself, each database record contains a variety of information, says Meidenbauer, including details about the approach and the techniques, and any tests or measures used in the demonstration. Clearly, video technology has come a long way from Gloria and her three approaches.

"The response has been very positive. People are excited about it," Meidenbauer says. "They see this as very useful in training and teaching psychotherapy."

—K. Weir

For more information, visit APA's PsycTHERAPY.