Multigenerational Transmission Process

4 Commentsby   |  10.03.09  |  Uncategorized

Multigenerational Transmission Process, coined by Murray Bowen, is a hypothesis that states that relationship patterns in previous generations can serve as a model for functioning in future generations (McGoldrick, Gerson, & Petry, 2008). This would mean that a good deal of how we learn to interact with one another, especially in our nuclear families we learn from our families of origin. This is also how we see cycles of dysfunction repeating itself within families. This makes sense as we grow up around our families and see their interactions and therefore develop our own understanding of normal behavior. More »


5 Commentsby   |  09.28.09  |  Uncategorized

Triangulation happens then “two family members join against a third” (McGoldrick, Gerson & Petry 2008). Triangles are relationships that contain individuals in “sets of three relationships in which the functioning of each is dependant on and influenced by the other two” (McGoldrick, Gerson & Petry 2008). The formation of a triangle usually comes from instability or tension from two individuals, in order to stabilize their relationship they join a third person to the relationship. The two people may join up to help the other person or to gang up on them, either way they are relying on the third individual. Nichols (1987) talks about not only the tendency of couple clients to involve others as the third person in their triangle, but therapists as the third person in a triangle. Therapist may be tempted to side with one person or the other, and often times they will be asked to. More »


13 Commentsby   |  09.27.09  |  Uncategorized

Enmeshment is a term coined by Salvador Minuchin (1974) to describe what happens when boundaries between subsystems in families are diffuse. The more enmeshed a family becomes the less able members are to function autonomously. Minuchin (1974) says that “the heightened sense of belonging” felt in enmeshed families “requires a major yielding of autonomy” and “discourages autonomous exploration and mastery of problems” (p. 55). Though enmeshment is seen as healthy in some cases (e.g. couples who are falling in loveand mothers with newborns) if it continues over extended periods of time it will keep members from differentiation that will allow them to function separately from their family (Minuchin, 1974). More »


6 Commentsby   |  09.14.09  |  Uncategorized

Differentiation is the emotional maturity one has developed over the course of life which is displayed in everyday actions with family members as well as romantic partners. According to Kerr & Bowen there are different levels of achievable differentiation, ranging from the basic level, 25 or below, which is classified as “the inability to differentiate between thoughts and feelings” (101). A person who hasn’t been able to define exactly who they are and what they personally believe but has begun to develop a sense of differentiation is scaled in the 25-50 range. The next classified range of differentiation is 50-75 and people who fall within this range are able to make decisions that are well thought out and developed. Also, the intellect is able to make rational decisions outside of one’s current emotional state. The last range of scaled differentiation is from 75-100. Reserving 95-100 as hypothetical, this range of differentiation is one where the intellectual state and the emotional state are not directly influenced by each other but can work together. More »

Overfunctioner and Underfunctioner

5 Commentsby   |  09.14.09  |  Uncategorized

Overfunctioning and underfunctioning are two dysfunctional reciprocal roles that often occur together.  It occurs when one person appears to be healthy and successful while the other is unhealthy or not operating at their full potential (Gilbert 1992).  In reality both members of this dyad are struggling.  A typical scenario where this plays out can be seen in the family where the wife is very popular and well-liked and very active at a congregation or job, while the husband does very little and feels as if no one likes him.  He feels like a failure, and so the wife ends up making his friends for him, disabling him from learning how to socialize and make new friends.  Although the underfunctioner appears to be the one who is unhealthy, the overfunctioner actually is keeping this pattern going as well through his or her encouragement of the behavior of the underfunctioner.  Also the overfunctioner often experiences burnout as a result of trying to take care of two people instead of just him or herself. More »

Accurate Empathy

4 Commentsby   |  09.06.09  |  Uncategorized

      Accurate empathy is one of the essential qualities successful therapists use to connect with their client. According to Trux & Carkhuff (1967) accurate empathy describes the therapist’s ability to see things from their client’s perspective. Trux & Carkhuff (1967) further illustrate accurate empathy by saying “both the therapist’s sensitivity to current feelings and his verbal facility communicate this understanding in a language attuned to the client’s feelings” (p.46). However, to display accurate empathy the therapist does not have to show or feel the same emotions as their client. For example, a therapist that displays a high rate of accurate empathy correctly responds to the client’s feelings and recognizes subconscious and/or conscious emotions the client maybe expressing. In turn, the client feels more validated because he or she feels like the therapist understands them. This understanding will help the therapist/client relationship grow, increasing the chances of a successful outcome for the client(s). More »


4 Commentsby   |  09.06.09  |  Uncategorized

In the therapist/client relationship, a certain degree of trust needs to be fortified before true therapy can begin. Trux & Carkhuff (1967) state that to be an effective therapist one must have certain qualities. One of the qualities they stress is that of genuineness. Their definition of genuineness refers to a “meeting on a person-to-person basis without defensiveness or a retreat into facades or roles” (p. 32). The therapist needs to be open and honest with his or her clients. They should be sympathetic and interested in the client’s story. A therapist possessing the trait of genuineness will not only listen to the client by ear but will also truly be involved in the things his or her client is saying. He will take an active role in the therapy process (p. 32). More »

Non-possessive Warmth

5 Commentsby   |  09.05.09  |  Uncategorized

As discussed in class this previous week, non-possessive warmth is one of the three key characteristics a therapist needs to exhibit for effective therapy to take place.  To better understand what non-possessive warmth is, I believe it is necessary to look at what it is not.  According to Truax and Carkhuff’s stages of non-possessive warmth, the first stage is when the therapist is letting it be known what he or she thinks about what the client is telling them.  Their opinion of the client and their behavior is clear, and oftentimes the therapist tries to tell the client what is best for them to do.  As I was reading about non-possessive warmth at this stage, an image of therapist as a parent (albeit an “unhealthy” one) came into my mind.  The therapist has made the clients actions personal, and seems to be taking a level of responsibility for them, much like a parent may take responsibility for the actions of his or her child.  More »

Welcome to the MFT program at ACU!

0 Commentsby   |  08.18.09  |  Uncategorized

Let me take this opportunity to welcome you to the MFT family here at ACU! We are so excited to have you here with us for this exciting two-year journey. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, and there may be days (like the first week of classes when you’re receiving all those syllabi) when you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. But I hope that you will also have fun getting to know each other and immersing yourself into the fascinating world of systems. We also expect that this journey will be personally challenging for you as we ask you to examine yourself and “practice what you preach” to your clients. More »