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Experiential Family Therapy – Symbolic-Experiential Therapy

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Who developed Symbolic-Experiential Therapy
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Carl Whitaker
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Symbolic-Experiential Therapy is referred to “therapy of the absurd” because of what
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-the unconventional and playful wisdom used to help transform families -absurdity is used to perturb (shake or wake up) the system in a compassionate and caring way
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Symbolic-Experiential Therapy is often misunderstood as what
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nonsense but instead it is “heart sense”
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, rather than intervening on behavioral sequences, it focuses
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on the emotional processes and family structure
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is relied on heavily
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-Symbolism -real life experiences -humor, play and effective communication
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, often seemingly inappropriate, but instead was
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always for the purpose of confronting or otherwise intervening on emotional dynamics that need to be exposed, challenged and transformed
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what should be balanced
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strong emotional confrontation with warmth and support from the therapist
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, therapists are encouraged to do what
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move beyond the rules of polite society and invite themselves and clients to be genuine and real enough to speak the whole truth
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are the two battles in therapy
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-for structure -for initiative
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, who should win the battle for structure
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the therapist in order to set the boundaries and limits for therapy
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, who should win the battle for initiative
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-the client in order to have the investment and initiative to pursue change -the therapists should never work harder than their client
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are the three necessary parts of structure for change
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-the necessary people attend therapy -therapy occurs frequently enough to produce progress -session content and process will produce change
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, therapy should not happen if
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the clients are not able to meet the minimal structure requirements
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what stalls change
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if the therapist wants change more than the client
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, therapists must be ready to follow client’s lead on
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how hard to work
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, how can initiative be interpersonally uncomfortable because of
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-awkward silences -“I don’t know” answers -tension -clients think therapist should take the lead or provide solutions
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, why is making the client responsible for initiative
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-allowing this tension to build because it’s an issue of the family becoming somebody -its an invitation for the family to come alive and stop play acting
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, who began co-therapy
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Whitaker and Malone
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what does caring in absurdity take the form of
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speaking a truth no one else has been willing to speak
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what must behind brutally honest comments
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-the spirit of caring -humor playfulness and silliness
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, by being to play with otherwise serious matters, therapists invite themselves as well as their clients into a more what
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resourceful position in relation to the problem
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what does therapy of the absurd also use
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paradoxical techniques that take the symptom and exaggerate it 10% so that clients can see the folly of their fears and habits
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, how are paradox always emplyed
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in a playful way
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, therapist strive to be what
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-authentic and genuine -do not follow many of the pretenses that many would consider professional or appropriate boundaries
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are examples of how a therapist acts authentically
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-if they are bored, they show it -if they are annoyed, they express it -if they see an elephant in the room, they say something
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what does a level of authenticity require
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extensive supervision and training to ensure that therapists are able to maintain exceptionally clear boundaries between their personal issues and clients’ issues
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, therapist use a different set of what
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relational rules for being professional
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, how is authenticity primarily for the benefit of the client
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it models the type of authenticity the therapist wants the client to develop and to create an environment in which the client can do this
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what does integrity require
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-a fierce adherence to personal beliefs -a willingness to stand upper them
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, why is integrity required
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to push families to address the painful issues they have been avoiding
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, where does responsibility come into play
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-therapist strive to be “responsive” to the family without being “responsible” for them
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is the therapist responsible for
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-pushing the clients to accept full responsibility for their own lives -to ensure that the therapeutic process promotes change -to win the battle for structure -to be active, not directive
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what does the therapeutic process stimulate
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mutual growth through the therapist and the clients authentic encounter with each other
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, because of the therapist authenticity, what does the therapist learn
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-about their own limitations, blindspots, and weaknesses -use these encounters with clients to also grow and become more fully authentic people
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, how are co-therapist used and why
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one is nurturing and the other more confrontational so that the family has a strong base of support as well as a process for having difficult issues raised and addressed
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what does cotherapy model
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coparenting relationships
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is case conceptualization
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when the therapist relies primarily on in-the-moment authentic encounters with the client to experience who the “other” is in a holistic way
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, when therapist get a sense of boundaries or triangles, they can focus on what
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-emotional exchange between parties rather than actions. -They feel their way through the system
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, assessment is accomplished through a trial of labor. What is this
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observing how the family responds to the therapist’s interventions and interactions
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, during the labor of love assessment, what does the therapist try to understand
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-each person’s preferred family roles -beliefs about life -values within relationships -developmental and families histories -interactional patterns
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what two broad patterns do therapist attend to
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-the structural organization of the family -the emotional processes and exchanges within the family
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, how is structural organization assessed
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-Permeable boundaries -Clear boundaries -Role flexibility -Flexible alliances and coalitions -Generation Gap -Gender-Roe flexibility -Transgenerational mandates -Ghosts
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are permeable boundaries in structural organization
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boundaries should be permeable, not overly rigid
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are boundaries with extended family and larger system in structural organization
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they should allow for the autonomy of the nuclear family well as connection with broader system
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is role flexibility in structural organization
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-family roles, including the scapegoat or good/bad child -should rotate frequently
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are flexible alliances and coalitions in structural organization
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-they are inevitable but should be flexible -changing with each new situation -challenge rather than always involving the same people on the same team
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is generation gap in structural organization
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should have clear boundaries, resulting in strong marital and sibling subsystems
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is gender-role flexibility in structural organization
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should be negotiable, resisting stereotyped gender norms in favor of the ability of each parent or partner to assume a wide rage of roles as necessary
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are transgenerational mandates in structural organization
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-assessed across three to four generations -open to negotiation
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are ghosts in structural organization
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identifying deceased or living extended family members who are creating cross-generational stress
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, how are emotional processes assessed
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-differentiation and individuation -tolerance of conflict -conflict resolution and problem solving -sexuality -loyalty and commitment -parental empathy -playfulness, creativity, and humor -cultural adaptations -symbolic process
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is differentiation and individuation in emotional processes
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each family member should be able to hold unique opinions and speak for him or herself
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is tolerance of conflict in emotional processes
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healthy families are able to tolerate the overt and explicit expression of differences and conflict
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is conflict resolution and problem solving in emotional processes
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able to engage in overt conflict and successfully resolve conflicts and solve problems, which may involve win-win scenarios, compromises, or acceptance of differences
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is sexuality in emotional processes
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couples share intimacy and sexuality is contained within generational lines
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is loyalty and commitment in emotional processes
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a clear sense of loyalty and commitment while allowing for individual autonomy
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is parental empathy in emotional processes
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-parents should demonstrate empathy for children’s experience while still maintaining boundaries and structure -people who were abused as children often fail to have sufficient empathy or are overly empathetic and do not set healthy boundaries
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is playfulness, creativity, and humor in emotional processes
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fun and laughter are signs of healthy family functioning
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are cultural adaptations in emotional processes
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able to balance the needs of their culture of origin and their current cultural context
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is symbolic process in emotional processes
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each family has particular symbols and images that are “affectively loaded” and thus helpful in facilitating change
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, when assessing families what do therapist emphasize
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strengths, competencies, and resources for change
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what do therapist focus on activating in families
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resiliency and resourcefulness
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, when do symptoms develop
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when dysfunctional structures and processes persist over time
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, how can the persistence of dysfunction occur
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over generations, with offspring feeling obligated to adhere to family myths and legacies or to make up for prior losses
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, therapist have three primary long-term goals of what
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-Increase family cohesion -promote personal growth -expand the family’s symbolic world
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, how does a therapist achieve an increase in family cohesion
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create a sense of nurturance and confidence in problem solving
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, how does a therapist promote personal growth
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support the completion of developmental tasks for all family members
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is cohesion
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the emotional connection between family members
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are two key areas to achieve cohesion
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-interpersonal boundaries -transgenerational boundaries
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are interpersonal boundaries
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-the relational rules that regulate closeness and distance
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what 2 things should interpersonal boundaries allow
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-each person to have enough freedom to be fully him/herself -strong emotional connection and intimacy between family members
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what should transgenerational boundaries allow
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should allow for sufficient autonomy of the nuclear family while encouraging connection with the extended families
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what do therapist aim to increase
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self actualization by successfully navigating developmental tasks
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is self actualization
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a person’s level of personal growth
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, at a minimum how far should self actualization be promoted
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when the client is no longer experiencing symptoms at the individual level and can function in most areas of daily life
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, at a maximum how far should self actualization be promoted
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-personal growth and a more authentic experience of self and self-expression -pursue specific growth goals that relate to their presenting problems
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are examples of specific growth goals
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Increase ability to -express thoughts and feelings respectfully with others and decrease people pleasing behaviors -connect with others at a deeper emotional level and to express this connection -consciously respond to stress rather than react with anger and fear -proactive handling of problems and reduce procrastination and avoidance
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, people filter their lives through what
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a person’s symbolic world, a relatively few constructs or believes about life
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, in relation to a person’s symbolic world, therapist aims to what, give an example
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-expand the meaning of experience -broaden the client’s life horizons a family that identifies itself with hard work and success at the expense of personal relationships, the therapist explores this source and tries to expand the meaning of success to include relation, health and other spheres of life in addition to work
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is the intervention of confusion and disorganization
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-breaks the family out of their rigid interaction patterns -created with absurd comments, role reversals or appealing to universal principles that are at odds with the families beliefs
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is an example of role reversal intervention
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relabeling a child’s correcting of the parent as a child trying to parent the parent
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is an example of an absurd comment intervention
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offering ridiculous solutions
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is an example of appealing to universal principles that are at odds with the family’s beliefs
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that teen rebellion is normal or a rite of passage
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are here-and-now experiencing interventions
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when a therapist uses the immediacy of what is in the room, including their own emotional responses to the clients, to highlight and redirect structural change and confront dysfunctional patterns and beliefs
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, why do therapists redefine symptoms
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to redefine them as ineffective efforts toward growth, thus pointing in the direction of needed change
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what do reframes strive for
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growth and authenticity
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, how do therapist expand the symptom
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from an individual matter to a family matter, often extending to an intergenerational problem
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are the benefits of being playful
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-builds a strong therapeutic relationship that allows them to directly and honestly confront clients without encountering resistance -helps reframe the problem that has been unrealistically magnified often in the case of parents or spouses
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, people often get in trouble because
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they do not know how to allow each person in a relationship to have personal autonomy while also being intimately connected with others
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what does a therapist help clients are unreasonably demanding to their partners or children
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-sort out where their spheres of influence should begin and end -sort out and honor each persons unique response to the situation -identify the underlying need for validation in wanting the partner to respond in a certain way
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, the goals of the therapist to use affective confrontation are
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-to raise client’s awareness when they do not know how they are contributing to the problem -to raise a taboo subject that the client and others have been avoiding -to increase motivation to make changes when there is cognitive awareness but no change in action
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what does Whitaker say about not pushing
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Not to push, under the assumption that I might make things worse, is to decide for the family that they are too sick to care and too inept to grow
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are examples of confrontations use to interrupt dysfunctional patterns
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-when did you divorce your husband and marry you son -you are aware that you have abandoned the family to advance your career -what do you think would be more detrimental for your daughter: missing dance practice once a week for a few weeks or having her patents divorce? Do you want to ask you child what her preference is?
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what do therapist use with clients are unrealistically hopeless (pessimists)
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paradoxical techniques such as augmenting despair and amplifying deviation to get outside the client’s comfort zone so the client can see how out of proportion the despair and negative assumptions are with the facts.
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, paradoxical interventions can be done playfully or directly depending on what
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what would be more useful to the client and most congruent with his/her personality
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are absurd fantasies designed for
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-to increase the family’s flexibility and openness to new behaviors -get clients out of their habitual ways of looking at things -to shake them out of their patterns -to make realistic solutions more palatable
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are absurd fantasies
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playfully perturbing or shaking up the system so that new symbolic meanings, ideas, and perspective can emerge
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what is an example of an absurd fantasy
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if washing dishes is such a problem, why do’t you invest in paper plates
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, therapist are careful to reinforce what
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the parental hierarchy and clearly establish generational boundaries between parents and children
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, what are examples of reinforcing parental hierarchy
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-supporting parents when they make a request of a child -instructing parents to manage a child’s behavior in session -greeting parents first
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, why do therapist share stories, free-associate and offer metaphors
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to provide powerful images and examples that will help inspire clients to change
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In Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, why do clients receive a message more easily through a functional story or metaphor
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because it is about somebody else, not them, and so there is less resistance or debate about details