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Flashcards in Experiential Deck (24)
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Virginia Satir

Experiential Family Therapist who was interested in communication. Originally with MRI Group from 1959-1966, but she wanted to invest more in emotions. Highly nurturing, empathetic, and genuine, she used techniques like touch and family sculpting.


Carl Whitaker

A "maverick" psychiatrist who was amongst the first to conduct therapy with families; he would often work as a provocateur with his partner, Augustus Napier, acting as the "straight man". He wrote "The Family Crucible"


Emotionally Focused Therapy

Sue Johnson - empirically supported as the most effective form of couples' therapy. Based on attachment theory. Focuses on uncovering the hurt underneath a person's defensiveness, anger, or withdrawal and helping couples understand these dynamics - "the dance". Three stages: cycle de-escalation, changing interactional positions, and consolidation and integration.


Experiential Family Therapy - Role of the Therapist

Directive, active, genuine, caring, and accepting; an educator; provides for new experiences by being a foreign element in the system


Self Actualizing

Self-awareness leads to the ability to make decisions and take responsibility


Content (Experiential Family Therapy)

Seen as superficial


Basics of Experiential Family Therapy

Focuses on the here and now experience within the therapy room and emphasizes individuals and their emotions


Premise for dysfunction (Experiential)

Emotional suppression, faulty communication, inappropriate roles, inappropriate rules, and/or unrealistic expectations lead to dysfunction. Low self-esteem and defensive behavior result from dysfunctional family systems.


Change process (Experiential)

Change families by getting in touch with emotions, hopes/desires, and fears/anxieties. Techniques are focused on promoting new forms of communication and interaction


Healthy family development (Experiential)

Healthy families support individual growth in family members and permit a wide range of experiences/emotions and allow for family members to express their emotions; dysfunctional families resist awareness and limit emotional expressiveness.


"Quiet desperation"

A term coined by Satir to refer to the state of suppression in dysfunctional families


Destructive behaviors (experiential)

Blaming, placating, being irrelevant (checking out), and being "ultra-reasonable" but inauthentic as a means of protecting self-esteem.


Goals of Experiential FT

Promote individual family growth through experience/emotional expression, increase personal integrity (congruence of feelings/behaviors), liberating the affect of family members, and revitalize relationships through more congruent family members


Assessment (Experiential)

Less focus on assessment than other schools of therapy and avoid characterizing or diagnosing people; instead, seek to understand the defenses that keep people from experiencing their full range of emotions and feelings


Family Sculpting

Tx asks a family member to physically arrange the family to represent family roles, rules, perceptions of family members



Re-enacting scenes from childhood or the present, at times using Gestalt techniques like the "empty chair"


Family art therapy/conjoint drawing

Experiential technique to help families warm up and express themselves in ways that tap into their emotions. Ask families to "draw a picture as you see yourselves as a family" and the results may disclose perceptions that haven't previously been discussed.


Personal touch

Very important to Satir and her brand of Experiential FT


Psychology of the Absurd

Taking clients' statements to the extreme; often used by Carl Whitaker


Internal Family Systems

Dick Schwartz. Examines the inner conflicts people have with themselves by personifying conflicting inner voices as parts.


Dick Schwartz

Internal Family Systems


Sue Johnson

Founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy


Secure attachment bond

Characterized by emotional accessibility and responsiveness. Secure attachment refers to both having grown up with a sense of being loved and to having the confidence that comes from having a dependable relationship.


Attachment injuries

Traumatic occurences that damage the bond between partners and maintain negative cycles and attachment insecurities if not resolved