In TIFT #14, I talked about my personal goal to see the psychotherapy integration movement turn from seemingly endless exploration to seeking consensus. At SEPI’s 37th Annual Meeting in June, three of us surprised even ourselves in a Zoom session as we arrived at a core consensus on the common infrastructure of psychotherapy. Here is our joint statement:
A Vision for the Common Core of Psychotherapy
“Advancing Psychotherapy Integration by Creating Common Ground” is the second of a two-part conversation series with three seasoned therapists and educators. Marv Goldfried (co-founder of the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration–SEPI), Jeffery Smith (leader of the Special Interest Group on Convergence), and Gregg Henriques (SEPI President Elect)—in a very animated interchange–found strong agreement in the four key areas: (1) defining the core problems that psychotherapy treats as “entrenched maladaptive patterns”; (2) defining transtheoretical principles that guide the process as consisting of enhancing hope, fostering an effective therapeutic alliance, cultivating awareness, encouraging corrective emotional experiences, and fostering ongoing adaptation; (3) framing the process of change via the client’s transformation from unconscious incompetence into conscious incompetence into conscious competence and finally unconscious competence; and (4) identifying the core mechanisms of change as learning new patterns and modifying existing ones by extinction and memory reconsolidation, occurring when emotionally charged episodes are activated and worked through under the proper facilitating conditions.
As was noted in the discussion, there is, of course, much to be added to this “common core.” However, what seemed particularly exciting about the dialogue–apart from the unscripted lively interaction of the participants–was that this consensus seemed to be structured at the right level of analysis, namely principles and processes. As such, this may be the beginning of a common core on which we can agree.
View the video on Youtube. Click here:
Marv, Jeffery, and Gregg
PS: Noting some comments, I would like readers to know that we recognize the common factors approach, but see a weakness in that it aggregates all kinds of EMPs together and does not offer any explanation of how therapy works. As a result, it does not offer ways to further refine and improve what we do beyond empathy and a positive relationship. Understanding the principles, processes and infrastructure opens up detailed research questions and opportunities for focusing our technique. JS
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