Put_Name_HereCarl Whitaker

Carl Whitakers (1912-1995), the founder of Experiential Family Therapy, was innovative and unique in the manner in which he practiced counseling. Based mostly on humanistic and existential psychology, Whitaker posited a positive view of human nature and believed that the most critical aspect of change was the relationship between the therapist and the client (the "I-Thou" relationship). Whitaker, would often state that he did not have a theoretical approach: "I have a theory that theories are destructive." However, it is clear that there were specific ways in which he worked with families. In fact, he often would say that therapy occurs in stages. At first, the family is defensive and closed to the therapist. As the therapist invades and then joins with the family, they begin to see him or her as a genuine person and begin to open up. At this point, inner hurts and conflicts, often from the past, begin to emerge. The therapist now facilitates the family members’ exploration of these hurts and helps the family see how they have affected each member within the family. Now, family members begin to work on their own problems and move toward individuation. A warm and caring person, Carl Whitaker had a profound affect on family therapy and on psychotherapy in general.

Dr. Jeffrey Zeig, Director of the Milton Erickson Foundation (www.erickson-foundation.org), architect of The Evolution of Psychotherapy Conferences (www.evolutionofpsychotherapy.com), and editor or author of more than 20 books (www.zeigtucker.com), tells his reminiscences about Carl Whitaker.
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