Posted: January 20th, 2022

Experiential and Humanistic Theories

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  1. Jasmine Burgos Discussion – Week 7 Experiential and Humanistic Theories Whitaker’s Symbolic-Experiential Family Therapy, Kempler’s Experiential Family Therapy, and Satir’s Human Validation Model all have elements tailored to increase overall awareness of the family client’s roles, enhance relationships within the family, and provide opportunity for each family member to establish a sense of autonomy while still respecting the family dynamic. I believe with experience and continued training that I could effectively use any of these approaches with Couples and Family Therapy. They each have atleast one aspect that was either creative or unexpected. Whitaker’s Symbolic-Experiential Family TherapyWhitaker’s emphasis on bringing unconscious issues to the conscious realm to work through them resonates with my style as a counselor. I also believe that “a person’s individual background and experience” is a “valuable component of therapy” (Walsh et. al., 2021). Every individual in the family unit brings their own identity (underdeveloped or fully developed) into the sessions and their experiences shape the reality they believe to be true. Understanding each person’s metaphor of what represents their issues opens up the lines of communication and increases empathy. This is important when it comes to changing the “family culture” from a negative and reactive system to one that is more of an empowering and playful system that encourages friendly confrontation and development of healthy interrelationships. A challenge for me would be establishing the “authoritative control” within the family early on in the terapuetic relationship. I could insert the expectation when providing consultations or reviewing informed consent. However, I feel it may become more difficult when working with a family client who has a member who does not respond well to that especially with a female therapist. Kempler’s Experiential Family TherapyKempler’s approach stood out to me because it focused on taking responsibility, collaboration, and active experiences within sessions. In vertical relationships, I believe it is harder for individuals to take responsibility for their actions, especially when the belief is that the intention was good in nature. It can be healing for the family interrelationships and encourage the family client to work towards their goals. This can be beneficial for families who have experienced trauma together to develop a sense of empathy for each other and the experience each individual had. It creates a space for the couples/family client to work through issues in a space that emphasizes respect, awareness, and communication which is not usually easily translated between parents and children. My personal style of counseling with individual clients involves using role playing techniques to help them determine healthier ways to respond in high stress situations. Kempler’s techniques empowers the family to do this with each other as well as experience emotions together, and develop healthy behaviors to facilitate change and support. I do not think I would have any challenges with Kempler’s approach/techniques. I think I would utilize this approach more often than the others. Satir’s Human Validation ModelWhat stood out to me in Satir’s Human Validtaion Model was the Satir Change Model and the visual of the iceberg which really helped me to understand the functionality of the approach. It was also iteresting to learn that coping mechanisms are analyzed to determine the true presenting issue. I have only really asked my clients about the presenting issues they have and how they are coping to understand if they are using effective tools. If it is determined that they are not, we discuss alternatives. I have not thought of digging deeper into the “why” of using some over others. It may be tied to the population I work with, but it is something I would like to explore more. I think it’s a great way for the counselor to learn about the individuals within the relationship and pick up on unresolved, unspoken issues that are being projected onto the family unit. Exploring the use of coping mechanisms, level of self-esteem (which can be compared to Bowenian’s Level of Differentiation), and the presence of functional communication or lack-therof can be critical in breaking down resistence and developing congruent efforts in therapy. I do not see myself having challenges with this approach mainly due to my personality and style as a counselor. If any challenges arise, it may be from the type of family that I work with. I would like to see what others say regarding this approach.
  2. Main Discussion – Esweni IkeinThoughts on Whitaker’s Symbolic – Experiential Family TherapySymbolic-Experiential family therapy brings unity to a family going through issues. It tries to cultivate belonging and acceptance as well as Individuality. Looking at this theory, I like that it promotes unity while still allowing Individuality. This theory makes more sense to my counseling style in that I want my clients to feel open and comfortable with one another and themselves. A challenge within this theory is using the technique of affective confrontation. I’m not too fond of conflict and try to avoid it, but I think allowing it and being involved and trying to tame it will be a challenge when counseling a family.Thoughts on Kempler’s Experiential Family TherapyExperiential family therapy is concerned with making positive forward movements towards their goal for their counseling. Improving family communication and awareness of oneself and others is also essential. Looking at this theory, I Like that the family is moving towards a goal together. Rather than each person individually adding up to meet the goal. I would use this theory as an approach in my counseling style. A challenge I might have with this theory is making sure all individuals in a family are on the same level, and everyone is included.Thoughts on Satir’s Human Validation ModelThe Human Validation Model is concerned with understanding a person’s way of thinking or rationale for what they do to others. Looking at this theory, I like that it allows acceptance and validation of one’s thoughts and actions. It also allows the counselor to see the communication barriers or problems and get past them. In my counseling style, I would use this theory to enable family members to feel heard and accepted and find the reasoning behind them. A challenge I might have in using this theory is more tension due to having no acceptance or validation in the family system.
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