The Experiential Approach to Family Counseling

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The Experiential Approach to Family Counseling Part 1 The experiential therapeutic model has become widely regarded as an acceptable approach to family therapy. This methodology contrasts with more traditional, Freudian-derived methods of talk-therapy. Although the exact definition of experiential therapy differs slightly from one professional to another (this paper delineates some of the differences between the varying definitions) the consensus stipulates that experiential therapy is more active than talk therapy and involves placing the patient in hypothetical situations. This paper begins with a survey and discussion of several interpretations of experiential therapy and its applications, and ends with an integrated approach applying Christian faith to experiential therapy. Experiential therapy takes its title from an emphasis on experience as the essence of one's existence. According to Maherer, the myriad ways in which a human can perceive their situation stems from their "potentials for experiencing" (Mahrer, 1996) As such, experiential therapy seeks to channel one's potential for experiencing a given situation in a positive light; it takes as its departure point the belief that the way one perceives their experience stems not only from their mental faculties but also from the environment in which one has positioned himself. As Seeman and Cain (2001) explain: "Experiencing" refers to what you can sense in your body right now as you read this. Human beings have
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