Timeline of psychotherapy

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This is a timeline of psychotherapy.

See psychotherapy for a description of the nature and development of the subject.

Also see timeline of psychology.


  • ca. 1550 BCE - Ancient Egyptians codified their knowledge of psychiatry, medicine, and surgery in the Ebers Papyrus and the Edwin Smith Papyrus. The former mentioned dementia and depression, while the latter gave detailed instructions for various neurosurgical procedures. The power of magic (suggestion) was recognized as complementary to medicine.
  • ca. 500 BCE - Siddhartha Gautama founded the psychotherapeutic practices of Buddhism on the principle that the origin of mental suffering is ignorance, that the symptoms of ignorance are attachment and craving, and that attachment and craving can be ended by following the Eightfold Path.
  • ca. 400 BCE - Hippocrates taught that melancholia (depression) is caused by an excess of black bile, one of the four humours. Ancient Greek therapy for disorders of mood involved adjustment of the humours, to bring them into balance.
  • ca. 300 BCE - Composition of the Huangdi Neijing began in China. This medical work emphasized the relationship between organs and emotions, and formalized the theory of Qi (life-force) and the balancing of the primal forces of Yin and Yang.

Middle Ages

  • ca. 900 - Psychotherapy was first developed in the Middle East by al-Razi (Rhazes), who was at one time the chief physician of the Baghdad hospital.

Eighteenth century




  • 1793 - Jean-Baptiste Pussin, working with Philippe Pinel, began releasing incarcerated mental patients from chains and iron shackles in the first movement for the humane treatment of the mentally ill.

Nineteenth century


  • 1801 - Philippe Pinel published the first psychological approach to the treatment of the insane. The work appeared in English translation in 1806, as Treatise on Insanity.






Twentieth century





  • 1933 - Wilhelm Reich published his influential book Character Analysis.
  • 1936 - Karen Horney began her critique of Freudian psychoanalytic theory with the publication of Feminine Psychology.


  • 1942 - Carl Rogers published Counseling and Psychotherapy, suggesting that respect and a non-judgmental approach to therapy is the foundation for effective treatment of mental health issues.
  • 1943 - Albert Hofmann writes his first report about the hallucinogenic properties of LSD, which he first synthesized in 1938. LSD was practiced as a therapeutic drug throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
  • 1945 - The Journal of Clinical Psychology founded.
  • 1949 - Boulder Conference outlined the scientist-practitioner model of clinical psychology, looking at the M.D. versus Ph.D. used by medical providers and researchers, respectively.





  • 1980 - DSM III published by the American Psychiatric Association.


  • 1994 - DSM IV (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Twenty-first century


  • 2000 - The DSM-IV-TR, was published in May 2000 in order to correct several errors in DSM-IV, and to update and change diagnostic codes to reflect the ICD-9-CM coding system.