Tara Stephens's Archive


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 »

Tara Stephens's Comment Archive

  1. Tara Stephens on Resistance
    7:25 pm, 12.10.09

    In general who is more to blame for resistance: client or client-therapist relationship?

    Personally, like others above, believe that resistance is a natural part of life. I often find myself resisting friends, family, and other people simply because I subconsciously want to be independent of them and not doing what they suggest gives me a false sense of that. Resistance is natural in life, but I do believe that in therapy resistance is at fault of both parties. The therapist should be aware of their client and their current readiness in regards to how quickly they are ready to progress. If the therapist pushes too hard, naturally any person would resist to protect themselves. But, your client’s are naturally going resist because change is scary! Wanting to remain the same is natural and easy therefore we resist the change our therapist is promoting.

    What was your reaction to the horse story in the video? Do you think we can use resistance to our advantage in therapy; if so, how?

    I loved the story about the horse. People’s creative juices amaze me sometimes. Theoretically I do think that we can use resistance to our advantage, I think that will look different for each individual client and situation, but isn’t that what strategic therapy is all about?

    What are some ways in which we can avoid resistance in therapy?

    By putting our own therapist agendas aside and walking along the client with their best interest at heart, we will be able to reduce a bit of the resistance that we might have faced by trying to force our own wants on them. Also, on the same subject, by explaining and being honest about your motives (I don’t think full disclosure of therapy is necessary or helpful at times) and desires for the client in regards to therapy and where you see it taking them could help the client to jump on board to the changes they want to see in themselves.

  2. Tara Stephens on Triangulation
    3:23 pm, 10.20.09

    Triangulation is done out of necessity to keep stability. If a couple can not handle the anxiety or stress of a situation that is when another person or object is pulled into the situation. If the couple can handle the level of stress and anxiety of their relationship on their own, the other people or objects in their life are simply beneficial, not necessary.
    I definitely agree that triangulation could be between a couple and an object. My late aunt and her husband never had children and basically had a good marriage but during her battle with cancer, my aunt’s husband bought an old lake house to fix up. Basically, he brought that into their relationship to take his mind off of her cancer and to help relieve some of the anxiety he was feeling from his lack of power in his own life.

  3. Is simply helping people become aware of the patterns of behavior in their lives enough to help them break the cycle? What else do we as therapists try and do to help people break these generational ways of behaving?

    Do I believe that simply helping people to become aware of the patterns of behavior in their lives is enough to help them break the cycle? I do believe that in many situation it could be. As we grow up viewing the ways our parents, grandparents, and other members of our extended family behave, we learn that those are the somewhat ‘default’ behaviors for those specific situations. When we are placed in those situations as adults we fall back on our automatic responses which are these learned default behaviors. Simply becoming aware that these behaviors are learned make us more powerful in owning them and changing them.
    Now, I do not believe that making people aware of these patterns helps to break the cycle in all circumstances. Simply because the client was made aware that their behavior stemmed from a cycle that was learned doesn’t mean that they are necessarily interested in changing it. Even if they were interested in changing it, they may not recognize what steps to take differently. Another example could be that maybe the client’s behavior is stimulated by an overwhelming emotional state and the behavioral pattern can’t be broken by simply recognizing the pattern but by dealing with the emotion behind the behavior.
    Like stated previously, therapists can help make the clients aware of their own family patterns. Once aware of these patterns the client and therapist can discuss what areas of behavior they want to work on and change. Together they can search for alternate behaviors that will benefit both the individual client, their immediate family, and the generations that will follow.

  4. Tara Stephens on Emotional Cutoff
    4:07 pm, 10.14.09

    In regards to these questions, I agree with Jacqueline.

    Cutting oneself off from their family is an attempt at relieving oneself from the anxiety experienced that can’t be dealt with otherwise. Differentiation is, like Jacqueline said, an independence complimented with a healthy emotional attachment.

    I don’t agree with the assertion that emotional cut-off is neither good nor bad. I believe that our families are our basic support structure and a blue print to help us learn how to deal with life in almost every aspect. To emotionally cut off from one’s family is to throw off a tool that God has blessed us with. But, I do believe that there are times when I believe that emotional cut off is the healthiest option for an individual who is faced with extreme life circumstances, like Jacqueline said, in incest, physical abuse, and also intense emotional abuse.

    Conflict is a natural part of life and not all of it can be resolved especially with one’s own family. So, I agree with Bowen that all people have a measure of unresolved conflict with their family of origin.

  5. Tara Stephens on Differentiation
    9:58 pm, 09.20.09

    I do agree that differentiation is healthy in our Western individualistic society. In regards to clients coming from different cultures, I think it would prove difficult to really help them if you don’t have a deep understanding of their culture and where they are coming from.

    I like your example of fluctuating degrees of differentiation depending on life events. A couple would definitely need to be closer in order to help each other deal with such a difficult time.