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Experiential Family Therapy

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Analise Atchison

on 10 April 2018

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Transcript of Experiential Family Therapy

The Course of Therapy
The typical course of therapy takes several forms. it can be seen in Role play, family sculpting, outdoor activities, animal therapy, art, and games/exercises.
Experiential Family Therapy
Thank you!
Founders of Experiential Therapy
How long does it take?

These "super-hero wrist-bands" are made out of empty toilet paper rolls and decorated with basic craft supplies. An art therapist would use this activity to facilitate a conversation about finding "Your superpower," or the strengths that help you cope.
Decorating the wrist bands around the theme of their own superpower helps kids internalize that strength and feel empowered.

All Parts are Welcome. (n.d.). Retrieved April 08, 2018, from https://www.selfleadership.org/outline-of-the-Internal-family-systems-model.html

Banmen, J., & Maki-Banmen, K. (2014). What Has Become of Virginia Satir’s Therapy Model Since She Left Us in 1988?. Journal Of Family Psychotherapy, 25(2), 117-131. doi:10.1080/08975353.2014.909706

Cag, P., & Voltan Acar, N. (2015). A View of the Symbolic-Experiential Family Therapy of Carl Whitaker through Movie Analysis. Educational Sciences: Theory And Practice, 15(3), 575-586.

Mitten, T., & Piercy, F. P. (1993). Learning Symbolic-Experiential Therapy: One Approach. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, 15(2), 149-168.

The American Society of Experiential Therapists. (2016). Retrieved March 29, 2018, from http://www.asetonline.com/index.html

Thompson, S. J., Bender, K., Cardoso, J. B., & Flynn, P. M. (2010). Experiential Activities in Family Therapy: Perceptions of Caregivers and Youth. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20(5), 560-568. doi:10.1007/s10826-010-9428-x
Virginia Satir 1916-1988
This course of therapy is based on the now, therefore each therapy session should be focused on what is happening in the family at the present moment.
What do Positive Outcomes Look Like?
The purpose of this therapy is to explore emotions, what each member of the family may be feeling but can't articulate. This therapy helps to resolve conflicts, help heal wounds, and learn healthy ways to interact with loved ones. Positive outcomes are achieved when these goals have been accomplished.
Experiential Therapy is best for anyone who has a hard time expressing themselves verbally
young children
individuals with intellectual disabilities
those who are timid or quiet
abuse survivors
trauma survivors
those who are uncomfortable talking about private issues
Experiential Family Therapy first became popular in the 1960's when family therapy its self was young.
Carl Whitaker (1912-1995)
Whitaker was the chair of Emory University's Department of Psychiatry in 1955 when the department came under pressure to become more psychoanalytic.
Instead of succumbing to this pressure, he and his entire faculty resigned and established Atlanta Psychiatric clinic, where experiential family therapy was born.
Whitaker was among the first to do family therapy.
He was a leading proponent of a free form, client led, intuitive approach to therapy.
Wanted to encourage family members to be their genuine selves together and to get in touch with raw emotions.
Founders of Experiential Therapy
Satir was an early pioneer in family therapy. Her professional career began when she was working in private practice in Chicago and began working with families, believing that working with an entire family system was more effective than working with one individual alone.
Satir's approach to family therapy emphasized communication and emotional experiencing.
Support for Experiential Family Therapy
Criticism of Experiential Family Therapy
Limited number of research studies conducted
According to a 2011 qualitative study (Thompson & Cardoso)...
Facilitated opportunities to share feelings
Fun and engaging activities
Application to daily living
Focus on the positive/identifying strengths helped resolve conflict
According to Thompson & Cardoso's 2011 study...

Certain activities were unproductive
Some activities were pushed when the family's mood did not fit the activity
Too many activities, not enough advice given
Some activity instructions were too complex
Sometimes the point of the activity was unclear
Formal Educational Requirements
Level I Certification Requirements
Bachelor's degree from an accredited university in the mental health field
90 hours of training in:
Experiential therapy (50 hrs)
Psychodrama therapy (30 hrs)
Trauma training (10 hrs)
Level II Certification Requirements
Master's degree from an accredited university in mental health field
200 hours of training in:
Experiential therapy (60 hrs)
Psychodrama therapy (100 hrs)
Trauma training (20 hrs)
Addiction training (20 hrs)
Level III Certification Requirements
At least a Master's degree from an accredited university in a mental health field
500 hours of training in the following areas:
Experiential therapy (200 hrs)
Psychodrama therapy (200 hrs)
Trauma training (50 hrs)
Addiction training (50 hrs)
For information about training, certifications, requirements, application process, etc.
She is described as the archetypal nurturing therapist.
At a time when the field was immersed in abstract concepts and the implementation of complex strategies, Satir emphasized empathy.
After the passing of Satir and Whitaker, experiential family therapy experienced a time of decreased popularity. However, with the development of several newer models, experiential family therapy has been experiencing a bit of a revival.
Experiential family therapy operates under the assumption that is the root cause of familial distress is emotional suppression
Basic Tenets of Experiential Therapy
Similar to individual expressive therapies, experiential family therapy emphasizes the here-and-now experiences and emotions.
Families often try to regulate children's actions by disregarding and punishing children for experiencing emotions that are "undesirable." Children then learn to blunt their emotions rather than acknowledging and moving through them.
Systemic therapists see the roots of symptomatic behavior in family member's interactions.
Experiential therapists see symptomatic behavior in family member's projections and defenses interacting with each other's projections and defenses.
Attempts to bring about positive change in family function, will be more successful if families can bring down their own defenses, experience their emotions, and learn to be genuine with themselves and each other.
Modern Voices in Experiential Family Therapy
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
Sue Johnson, Clinical Psychologist
Draws on Perls, Satir, Bowlby's attachment theory and the MRI group to help couples
and families benefit from experiencing emotional vulnerability and safety with each other.
Internal Family Systems Therapy
Richard Schwartz, PhD
A therapeutic process in which client's inner voices are personified as characters or
parts, then are reintegrated using psychodramatic techniques
Evidence-Based Support/Criticism

Whitaker believed in learning through experience
Apprenticeship model
Challenges with this...
Satir only disclosed general descriptions
Resulted in incorporating her ideas rather than her approach
Where to learn more?

The American Society of Experiential Therapists
Full transcript