Jaime Goff's Archive

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 »

Jaime Goff's Comment Archive

  1. Great discussion, everyone! You all are so thoughtful and smart…I guess we made good decisions in bringing you here! Kevin, I love conspiracy theory movies and tv shows, but I don’t tend to be one myself. In some ways, I just don’t think people are that smart or inventive. I’m not sure what I would change. It’s kind of like Hiro on Heroes. You can go back and try to stop bad things from happening, but another bad thing would have ended up happening anyway. I guess I tend to be pretty pessimistic about these things.

  2. I love your examples, Tommy! Interestingly enough, the only family-based sitcom my family ever watched was The Cosby Show. I say that’s interesting because I consider my family to be covertly racist (I feel a bit disloyal saying that). I think the reason my parents liked that show was because it confirmed their belief that everyone, regardless of their race/ethnicity or social context, has the means to become a doctor/lawyer and to live an upper-middle class lifestyle if they just put their mind to it. The Cosby Show was great in that it showed an African American family who didn’t fit the stereotype of the time. But I wonder how much, if any, it contributed to maintaining institutional racism in our culture?

  3. Jaime Goff on Content
    6:59 pm, 10.26.09

    I think the tell-tale sign that a therapist is focusing too much on content is when change is not occurring. Granted, there may be other factors at play, such as the client’s specific stage of change, his/her motivation, etc. Generally, however, if focusing on content to the neglect of process, change will not be occurring. The most salient example of this is the client who comes in every week and tells detailed stories about what happened since his/her last session. Interns often feel stuck in these situations, but when watching their sessions, I see them going along and allowing themselves to get sucked into the content. Focusing on content is easier, and when you’re tired, you may be tempted to just allow the client to ramble while you ask therapeutically insignificant questions. I’m not pointing the finger here…I’ve done it too! I often tell interns in this situation to do something different to get the session started, and that typically entails focusing on process in some way or another.

  4. Jaime Goff on Emotional Cutoff
    6:51 pm, 10.26.09

    Scott, thanks for the Journey/Glee shout-out with your example. I was with Amie…I thought it was one person with way too much time on his hands. But after your most recent comment, I’m not sure. Tell us! Please!?

    I really appreciated your description of emotional objectivity, and I think you described it correctly as defined by Kerr and Bowen. This whole discussion is the #1 sticking point for people when it comes to differentiation. Emotional objectivity is about using our uniquely human ability (as compared to the rest of the animal kingdom) to make a choice about whether and how we will respond to our instinctual emotional responses. We have the opportunity to engage our prefontal cortexes. My cat, unfortunately, does not. When she gets mad at me, her brain stem tells her to pee on my luggage, clothes, etc. She doesn’t ever think about whether this is a good response…she just does it (much to my chagrin).

  5. Tyson, I appreciate your humor regarding the shirt. I was kind of wondering about both of their clothing decisions. I mean, that’s what I expect when I walk into a therapist’s office…a Hawaiian shirt and a camisole.

    Anyway, to focus on what’s really important…I think that genuine change has to include both insight and behavior. When we only change a specific behavior, that’s really just first-order change. When we are faced with a stressful situation again, we’ll be likely to fall back into our old pattern. Adding insight or awareness to the mix makes it more likely that a second-order change will occur. However, insight alone generally does not bring about significant change. As with most things, I think it’s better to think in terms of both/and as opposed to either/or.

  6. Jaime Goff on Differentiation
    4:27 pm, 09.30.09

    I think that differentiation is often misunderstood as meaning that you can’t or shouldn’t be closely connected to others. I don’t think that’s what it refers to at all. The core question of differentiation, imho, is this: Is disagreement permitted/tolerated? And how does a family respond to it? Do they kick a person out who chooses a different lifestyle, makes a decision they disagree with, or believes something different? Or are they able to maintain close connection, in spite of areas of disagreement? Even in more collective cultures, I think differentiation can be healthy for families. I think there’s a reason Japan has such high suicide rates for young adults…the pressure to conform to their families’ expectations are overwhelming and to disappoint them seems worse than dying.

  7. Jaime Goff on Enmeshment
    4:17 pm, 09.30.09

    Creepy video! In regard to your question about churches and enmeshment, my observation has been that churches are becoming less dependent on their members having all of the same beliefs (of course, that could just be the communities I’ve been part of). Granted, some of the basic beliefs are the same (at least on the surface), but there seems to be more tolerance among faith communities for difference. I think this has been one of the positive influences of postmodernism.

  8. Jaime Goff on Triangulation
    4:07 pm, 09.30.09

    Great video displaying triangulation! It’s so common for children whose parents are divorced to get pulled into very dysfunctional triangles. Even though I knew it was being role-played, my heart was aching for that little girl in the first scenario.

    As far as triangling things like pets, I definitely think it’s possible. I think my husband and I do it since we don’t have any kids to triangle. Self-disclosure alert…sometimes when I’m too frustrated with Eric to speak directly to him, I’ll tell my cat, Cassie, how irritated I am (even though he’s in the room and can hear me). Now you all know how weird I really am :).

  9. Regarding Elizabeth’s observation that an overfunctioning/underfunctining relationship seems to work for some couples, I’d like to ask another question. Even though this pattern seems like it is working in the present, what happens to the underfunctioner when the overfunctioner is no longer able to assume the majority of responsibility in the relationship? For example, I have a great aunt who was the youngest sibling in her family by ten years. From the time she was a little girl, people protected her from having to take responsibility for herself. This pattern continued into her marriage. She and my uncle had a wonderful Christian marriage. They loved one another dearly, and that was evident to everyone who knew them. But my uncle died about ten years ago. My aunt had never balanced a checkbook, pumped gas, or taken responsibility for a multitude of other daily tasks. For several months, she was completely reliant on her children, and she was only in her 50s and in perfect physical health. Her functioning has improved as time has passed, but she still expects everyone to do things for her. Despite her family’s and her husband’s motivation to protect and care for her, their overfunctioning left her paralyzed and incompetent.

  10. Jaime Goff on Non-possessive Warmth
    10:00 pm, 09.07.09

    I really liked the song as an example of nonpossessive warmth. Like Dr. Halstead mentioned in the staffing last week, we like to say we’re training our students to be incarnational companions. We want you all to leave here being better at being the eyes, arms, hands, and feet of Jesus. When we talk about these essential therapist characteristics, I can’t help but think about Jesus as the perfect example of all three. No one else has ever been able to get to the heart of the matter they way he could. When we think about clients who have different values/beliefs than us and how to be accepting regardless of their actions, I think we only have to think of Jesus. I think when we offer warmth without restriction, we are opening clients up to future possibilities. This reminds me of 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 in which Paul explains that, ultimately, it doesn’t matter who does the “saving” because each interaction is an opportunity to influence someone positively. As therapists, we may be planting the seeds of acceptance, showing people that regardless of what has happened in their lives, they are worthy of receiving love. Another quote comes to mind from St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.”