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Family Counseling Essay

A family counseling approach is a counseling theory that includes a combination of a variety of techniques, interventions, and tenets are used to address the needs of family members. Psychoanalysis is a form of therapy developed by Sigmond Freud. He was the first therapist to explore talk therapy as a viable means for treating psychological disorders. Psychotherapy serves as an umbrella concept for psychotherapeutic treatments. The family counseling approach is based upon psychoanalytic philosophies, interventions, and techniques.

Classical psychoanalytic techniques and interventions are discussed and explained. Counseling from a Christian perspective assists the counselor with focusing on one’s own performance based upon self-awareness and self-tests. A Christian worldview within family counseling affects the counselor and the client. While working with a client, the counselor can focus on the proper application of the American Counseling Association, ACA, and the American Association of Christian Counselors, AACC, Codes of Ethics.

Integrating the Codes of Ethics into daily practice helps the counselor to develop one’s sense of self along with their biases, limitations, and strengths. Biblical values allow the Christian family therapist the opportunity to show clients ways Christ can guide their life. Part I: Research Psychoanalysis forged its’ way into modern day therapies by founder Sigmund Freud. “Psychoanalysis is based upon the idea that humans are motivated by conflicts between unconscious and conscious forces (Murdock, 2009, p. 63).

Freud was the first to “explore the talk therapy approach as treatment for psychological dysfunction” (Murdock, 2011, p. 0). The Freudian schema explains the contrasts as “an unconscious and a preconscious, an ego, and an id, reality and fantasy, transference and a real relationship, a pleasure principle and a real relationship, neurosis and relative normality” (Friedman, 2002, p. 2). Research starting in the 1970s provides support for the “basic tenet that unconscious association networks, (thoughts, wishes, beliefs, fantasies), and unconscious procedures, (motives, defenses, character), control behavior outside awareness” (Gilhooley, 2008, p. 93).

It is important to realize there has been change in psychoanalysis throughout the years. According to Giannoni (2003), “we should be prepared to accept the fact that psychoanalysis has changed as well, in tune with the historical-cultural changes . . . ” (Giannoni, 2003, p. 645). Clients can benefit from the processes of psychoanalysis while conducting talk therapy, free association, and dream analysis as directly related to current and early relationships. A treatment plan is developed in order to address signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other psychological disorders that may arise in family therapy.

Family therapy began to flourish in the 1960s. . . ” (Slipp, 1982). The results of this type of therapy are multiple techniques and interventions are supported by the psychoanalytic theory. These will provide support and treatment of presenting concerns of psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. Goals The role of psychotherapy is to “serve as an umbrella concept for psychotherapeutic treatments that operate on an interpretive-supportive (or expressive-supportive) continuum” (Leichsenring, Hiller, Weissberg & Leibing, 2006).

The central constructs of the psychoanalytic theory are the structural model, including the id, ego, and superego along with symptoms as symbols, and defense mechanisms. The primary goals of psychoanalysis include “symptom relief, increased self-awareness, and a more objective capacity for self-observation” (Fine, 2003, p. 789). From a psychoanalytic point of view, the goal for counseling is insight into the causes of any presenting problems with one or all the members of a family. Another goal includes a decrease in the symptoms one or all the members of the family may be experiencing.

Lastly, the client/clients will understand the sources of the presenting problem or problems (Murdock. 2009). Interventions There are three primary interventions easily used in family therapy. The first intervention is free association. According to Freud there is one essential rule all clients must abide by. The rule states the “clients are asked to minimize conscious control and tell everything that comes to their minds, with the exception that more and more significant unconscious material will emerge” (Jones & Butman, 1991, p. 74). The second intervention is analysis of the resistance.

Murdock (2009) defines this type of intervention as a necessary awareness of the types of resistance a client may present. There are two types of resistance. These types are common resistance such as forgetting an appointment. The second type of resistance is “flight into health” (Murdock, 2009, p. 53). This resistance occurs when the client mistakenly believes one is getting better with their illness. The third intervention is dream analysis. When the therapist conducts dream analysis one can follow the guidelines set forth in Freud’s A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1920).

In addition, there are multiple textbooks available to assist with dream analysis. More recent books allow the therapist to provide the client an interpretation in more modern terms. The primary object in the dream is the symbol. Each symbol has an interpretation usually based upon sex. Establishing the Relationship Therapists are required by the American Association of Christian Counselors Code of Ethics to maintain confidentiality regarding sessions. The client and therapist must be willing to trust each other on a professional level in order for the therapy to be successful.

As a therapist one must be willing to share a certain degree of disclosure with the client. “Disclosure has become a complex and important consideration in the psychotherapeutic process” (Levine, 2011, p. 111). Disclosure may help to enhance trust between the client and therapist and alleviate any trust concerns the client may have. Analysis of Transference During transference the client/clients seeks support and approval from the therapist. Therapist should also explain to the client/clients that the therapists are human beings with feelings too.

Often times an unconscious conflict arises. This conflict may be a result of a strained relationship and lack of support stemming from one’s childhood. By the termination stage the client/clients should be able to rationalize one’s feelings. I will continue to encourage self-awareness of transference occurrences to Elizabeth and address them throughout the course of therapy. Insight Throughout the course of psychotherapy the client/clients should be able to understand that much of the sources of stress relate back to relationships in one’s childhood.

As the client/clients’ therapist, one encourages the client/clients to actively participate in free association at each session so the therapist can determine if any new conflicts have risen at the unconscious level. At each session the client/clients are encouraged to openly express one’s thoughts and feelings. The client/clients are instructed to delve deep into one’s unconscious mind at times and to explore any thoughts and feelings one has been experiencing despite the subject matter. The therapist must be cautious not to conduct suggestive interpretations of the instances of transference, free association, or dream analysis.

Munoz (2008) investigated suggestive interventions and discovered that “some suggestive influence will remain, and it may either facilitate the analysis by enhancing the patient’s identification with the analyst’s analyzing functions, or be used to recreate conflicted relations, leading to impasse if not addressed” (Munoz, 2008, p. 263). The client/clients are required to keep a dream journal and to bring it to each session. As part of the therapy process, the therapist can use Freud’s A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1920) to interpret elements of the client/client’s dreams.

Often times dreams are an element equivalent to Freud’s dream symbol interpretations involving sex of some form. With the successful growth of insight into one’s life and willingness to participate in talk therapy, clients settle into therapy and all of its components. Free association becomes much easier for one and flows more smoothly. Clients may be able to understand the inner conflicts from one’s childhood manifesting themselves into one’s current attempts at viable relationships.

Clients may realize one’s needs to look for honesty and integrity relationships without comparing outcomes of previous relationships with the potential outcomes of future not yet established relationships. Using psychoanalysis with clients may present one with the information needed to help recognize when the unconscious mind is flowing over into one’s everyday life. Clients may desire to help with conflicts among other family members. Many clients lack support and communication from other family members.

Clients will be able to recognize one must confront other family members, either together or separately about one’s feelings. Clients grow stronger in one’s ability to articulate one’s feelings appropriately without an immediate outburst of anger. During talk therapy clients practice talking to another family member in preparation of confronting them. Outcome research supports the efficacy of psychoanalysis. A Temple study verified that “psychoanalytic psychotherapy (weekly sessions for three months) was as effective as Behavioral Therapy, and that both were more effective than no treatment” (Murdock, 2009, p. 8).

Furthermore, “to dismiss psychoanalysis as irrelevant to the real problems of life is to fail to see its potential significance for the church and society” (Jones & Butman, 1991, p. 65). With the proven efficacy of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, clients will be competent in interpreting one’s thoughts and feelings, unconscious and conscious. Although there is proven efficacy to psychoanalysis, pieces of other therapies or approaches may be used to supplement the interventions of psychoanalysis. The old adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” influences the development of man.

Positive reinforcers help a client to strengthen one’s ability to focus on accurate processing of automatic thoughts (Positive reinforcers, 1992). Client furthers oneself by applying new learned behaviors appropriately in one’s life. In order to obtain and utilize new learned behaviors, therapists should encourage clients to “give it to God”. Often times this task seems impossible to complete. For example, if a client presents with major depressive disorder and panic attacks the therapist is responsible for providing techniques to decrease presenting problems in sessions.

Providing a client the opportunity and information on how to release one’s burdens into God’s hands promotes health and happiness in both the spiritual realm as well as the physical and mental realms. The client needs to be willing to tell one’s story and process automatic thoughts as another way of promoting health. Part II: Integration Consilient psychoanalysis is used to integrate the fundamental knowledge of multiple disciplines (Valone, 2005). Consilience is obtained by integrating empirical research findings from other disciplines. This concept is a viable technique for integration of one’s faith and family therapy.

A key to family therapy is to build hope within the relationships Worthington, 2005). Hope-focused counseling “involves a blueprint for marital counseling that describes your goal (produce stronger marriages), focus (promote hope), strategy, potential target areas, and interventions” (Worthington, 2005, p. 18). Family therapy is a needed service for all populations. The need of this service encompasses the lifespan. Men and women of all ages benefit from family therapy. Counseling provides a client an interpretation of assessments and inventories, both hard copies and on the computer.

Interpretations give the client a better understanding of one’s personal values, interests, abilities, and experiences. Family therapy has advanced significantly since its humble beginnings in late 1800s. Advances in technology, including lightening fast computers and a multitude of inventories and assessments, led to all populations having access to therapy. Disclosure of issues and concerns within sessions opens the door for a Christian counselor the opportunity to share the love of Christ with a struggling soul. Psychoanalysis is typically viewed as an atheistic philosophy.

Freud based much of this therapy on having a client speak from the unconscious. In addition, he tied sex to most of his interpretations. As a Christian counselor I may view most if the interventions presented by classic psychotherapy as helpful. However, the symbolism from dream analysis as related to sexual organs or desires would seldom be used. There are three methods for integrating psychology and the Christian faith. Pragmatic eclecticism, metatheoretical or transtheoretical eclecticism, and theoretical integration are the three methods.

Pragmatic eclecticism uses “the methods that comparative outcome research has shown to work best with the problems manifested by the clients” (Jones & Butman, 1991, p. 384). “Metatheoretical or transtheoretical eclecticism suggests that proponents of psychotherapy may simply be wrong about how ‘what they do’ works . . . ” (Jones & Butman, 1991, p. 390). The final method of integration is theoretical integration. This method “attempts to overcome the limitations of a single preferred theory by using it as one’s foundation or ‘home base’ while reaching out beyond that theory to one or two other models” (Jones & Butman, 1991, p. 93).

Clients can recognize one’s own potential for having a satisfying relationship with Christ as the center of one’s focus on hope. . There is a long established struggle between Christians and people coming from a worldview of science that goes back hundreds of years. As Christian counselors we must integrate theology and psychology. Viewing my future as a Christian counselor, I see myself asking clients permission to pray with them prior to each session. I feel homework assignments can be used effectively with some clients. Along with integration, therapists posses several presuppositions from a Biblical foundation.

Use of Scripture in therapy bridges the gap between psychoanalysis and Christianity. The Christian mind sees things differently because of these presuppositions. The presuppositions relevant to integration of Christianity and psychoanalysis are: 1. “God is central to all truth. 2. Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6) to which all Biblical truths are connected 3. God supernaturally intervenes in human history. 4. Human beings were created in the image of God Human beings chose to rebel against God. 5. Human beings are involved in a constant struggle between good and evil. 6. The knowledge of God provides purpose and meaning for life” (Blamires, 1963). The aforementioned presuppositions are a tool to use with clients who may not be used to using scriptural references as a method of finding peace and comfort in a trouble life.

I appreciate and admire most of Freud’s processes of psychoanalysis. The methodology provides the therapist a solution to presenting problems within the family unit. However, I cannot fully vest all of a family counseling approach purely to psychoanalysis. Integration and introducing me foremost as a Christian counselor will hopefully lead to providing clients much needed therapy.


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