Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Not power but beauty: How systemic sensing and engaging inspire therapeutic change
by McClendon, Karen Susan, Ph.D., University of Louisiana at Monroe, 2016, 188; 10111804
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this dissertation is to provide a rationale and framework for a systemic praxis for Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) that can be utilized to increase possibilities for therapeutic change. In a time in which “common factors” are valued and MFTs generally consider themselves eclectic or integrative, there is a need for therapists to learn to cultivate a systemic praxis that allows them to effectively “juggle” all of the elements of and responsibilities inherent in the therapeutic situation. Drawing from cybernetics, systemic theory, and radical constructivism, I develop a systemic praxis for therapists which incorporates systemic ways of perceiving and engaging, improvisation, and Recursive Frame Analysis (Keeney, 1990). I develop a theory regarding the nature, impact, and utilization of what I call “systemic sensing” and ways of engaging that go beyond adherence to various aspects of therapy models. Systemic Sensing constitutes ways of seeing, hearing, sensing, and intuiting that therapists can utilize to co-create, with their clients, opportunities for therapeutic transformation.

In this dissertation, I extend Ray Ison’s (2010) framework for systemic practice to the practice of marriage and family therapy. Ison (2010) provided a metaphor of the systems practitioner as a juggler. MFTs can improve their practice by learning to juggle Maturana’s (2002, 2008) notions of languaging and emotioning, Bateson’s (1972; 1979) notion of distinguishing, and Ison’s (2010) notion of naming; the practice of and responsibilities inherent in systemic sensing; and the tailoring and contextualizing of the practice of therapy to individual clients and moments in time.

What is needed in the field of marriage and family therapy is a way of envisioning and practicing therapy that increases possibilities for change. I call for a reformation that will shift the emphasis in marriage and family therapy from model-based training into more holistic, flexible, and systemic interpersonal practices that are based on inspiring therapeutic change and healing.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Chapman, Jocelyn
Commitee: Galick, Aimee, Moore, Justin
School: University of Louisiana at Monroe
Department: Marriage and Family Therapy
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: DAI-B 77/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Counseling Psychology, Systems science
Keywords: Cybernetics, Marriage and family therapy, Radical constructivism, Systemic practice, Therapeutic change, Therapeutic transformation
Publication Number: 10111804
ISBN: 9781339749815
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