Carl Alanson Whitaker (1912–1995) was an American physician and psychotherapy pioneer family therapist.
"Carl Whitaker was one of the founding generation of family therapists who broke the rules of the psychotherapeutic orthodoxies of the time, such as that therapy focused on a single client and was totally divorced from family life," said Richard Simon, editor of The Family Therapy Networker, a leading publication in the field. "His idea was that the entire family was the client." Dr. Whitaker, was known for his charm and charismatic manner, was one of the most powerful voices in shaping the practice of family therapy as it began to develop in the 1960s. Often provocative in his teaching, he told one interviewer, "Every marriage is a battle between two families struggling to reproduce themselves."
Dr. Whitaker was a native of Syracuse, NY, where he attended high school, university, and medical school. Whitaker received his M.D. from Syracuse University in 1936. After a residency in obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Whitaker began to work in 1938 in a psychiatric hospital, and soon became fascinated by the challenge of treating people suffering of schizophrenia. Observing that some patients seemed to recover only to have their problems re-emerge when they returned to their families, Dr. Whitaker began to focus on treating the whole family rather than the one patient.
He is credited for the co-development of the symbolic-experiential approach to therapy and the use of co-therapists , which came about during World War II as he counseled workers in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where a top-secret atomic bomb project was under way.
Whitaker referred to his work as “therapy of the absurd,” highlighting the unconventional and playful wisdom he used to help transform family. Relying almost entirely on emotional logic rather than cognitive logic, his work is often misunderstood as nonsense, but it is more accurate to say that he worked with “heart sense.” Rather than intervene on behavioral sequences like strategic-systemic therapists, Whitaker focused on the emotional process and family structure. He intervened directly at the emotional level of the system, relying heavily on “symbolism” and real life experiences as well as humor, play, and affective confrontation.
For the astute observer, Whitaker's work embodied a deep and profound understanding of families’ emotional lives; to the casual observer, he often seemed rude or inappropriate. When he was “inappropriate,” it was always for the purpose of confronting or otherwise intervening on emotional dynamics that he wanted to expose, challenge, and transform. He was adamant about balancing strong emotional confrontation with warmth and support from the therapist. In many ways, he encouraged therapists to move beyond the rules of polite society and invite all participants to be genuine and real enough to speak the whole truth.
From 1946 Whitaker served as Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Emory University, where he focused on treating schizophrenics and their families. He became a professor of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1965 until his retirement in 1982.During his tenure at the University of Wisconsin University of Wisconsin–Madison, he refined and articulated his ideas about psychotherapy, which he coined symbolic-experiential family therapy, and his national influence on the emerging field grew stronger.
A number of Whitaker's ideas about family therapy are presented in The Family Crucible, written with Dr. Augustus Napier in 1978, which became a highly influential work in the field. In 1982 Dr. Whitaker's major articles on family therapy were collected in From Psyche to System edited by John R. Neill and David Kniskern.
After his retirement Dr. Whitaker continued to teach and lecture widely, and he and his wife, Muriel Schram Whitaker, consulted with and supervised family therapists around the world. His last book, Midnight Musings of a Family Therapist, was published in 1988 by W. W. Norton.
Albert Ellis was an American psychologist who in 1955 developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). He held MA and PhD degrees in clinical psychology from Columbia University and the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). He also founded and was the President of the New York City-based Albert Ellis Institute for decades. He is generally considered to be one of the originators of the cognitive revolutionary paradigm shift in psychotherapy and an early proponent of cognitive-behavioral therapies.
Gestalt therapy is an existential/experiential form of psychotherapy which emphasizes personal responsibility, and focuses upon the individual's experience in the present moment, the therapist–client relationship, the environmental and social contexts of a person's life, and the self-regulating adjustments people make as a result of their overall situation.
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Jay Douglas Haley was one of the founding figures of brief and family therapy in general and of the strategic model of psychotherapy, and he was one of the more accomplished teachers, clinical supervisors, and authors in these disciplines.
The Internal Family Systems Model (IFS) is an integrative approach to individual psychotherapy developed by Richard C. Schwartz. It combines systems thinking with the view that mind is made up of relatively discrete subpersonalities each with its own viewpoint and qualities. IFS uses family systems theory to understand how these collections of subpersonalities are organized.
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Charles Figley is a university professor in the fields of psychology, family therapist, psychoneuroimmunologist family studies, social work, traumatology, and mental health. He is the Paul Henry Kurzweg, MD Distinguished Chair in Disaster Mental Health and Graduate School of Social Work Professor at Tulane University. He was a full professor and Traumatology Institute Director at the Florida State University (FSU) College of Social Work. Before FSU, starting as an assistant professor in the Dept of Child Development and Family Studies in 1974. Figley became a Purdue University Full Professor in 1983 with a courtesy appointment in the Department of Psychological Sciences. Professor Figley received both of his graduate degrees from the Pennsylvania State University and his undergraduate degree from the University of Hawaii, all in the area of human development.
Sue Johnson is a Canadian clinical psychologist, couples therapist, and author. She is known for her work in the field of psychology on bonding, attachment and adult romantic relationships.
Les Greenberg is a Canadian psychologist born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is one of the originators and primary developers of Emotion-Focused Therapy for individuals and couples. He is a professor emeritus of psychology at York University in Toronto, and also director of the Emotion-Focused Therapy Clinic in Toronto. His research has addressed questions regarding empathy, psychotherapy process, the therapeutic alliance, and emotion in human functioning.
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Stephen R. Lankton, MSW, DAHB is the current editor of the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis (2005–2017). He is a recipient of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis' "Lifetime Achievement Award" and “Irving Sector Award for Advancement of the Field of Hypnosis”. as well as the Milton H. Erickson Foundation “Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Psychotherapy.”
Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy was a Hungarian-American psychiatrist and one of the founders of the field of family therapy. Born Iván Nagy, his family name was changed to Böszörményi-Nagy during his childhood. He emigrated from Hungary to the United States in 1950, and he simplified his name to Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy at the time of his naturalization as a US citizen.
Common factors theory, a theory guiding some research in clinical psychology and counseling psychology, proposes that different approaches and evidence-based practices in psychotherapy and counseling share common factors that account for much of the effectiveness of a psychological treatment. This is in contrast to the view that the effectiveness of psychotherapy and counseling is best explained by specific or unique factors that are suited to treatment of particular problems. According to one review, "it is widely recognized that the debate between common and unique factors in psychotherapy represents a false dichotomy, and these factors must be integrated to maximize effectiveness". In other words, "therapists must engage in specific forms of therapy for common factors to have a medium through which to operate". Common factors is one route by which psychotherapy researchers have attempted to integrate psychotherapies.
Joan Jutta Lachkar, Ph.D., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Tarzana, California.
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Michael D. Yapko is a clinical psychologist and author, whose work is focused in the areas of treating depression, developing brief psychotherapies and advancing the clinical applications of hypnosis.
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