Psychological Mind Tricks: Is that what is occurring?
Family therapy is a relatively new movement and shift from the individualistic thinking. Nathan Ackerman (1958), asserted within in text, “Psychodynamics of Family Life,” that a patient can be seen as the emissary of a sick family. Consequently, numerous professionals advocate for a family perspective. In order to comprehend psychological professional use of “mind tricks” on family members, a brief overview of family therapy systems, goals, and beliefs must be reviewed.
The principles common to most family therapies consist of the views that: the whole is typically greater than the sum of the parts; parts of the family system can only be understood in the context of the whole system; linear causes and effect models are replaced by circular models; changes in one part will affect all parts; systems tend to seek balance; feedback mechanisms help restore balance; interventions focus on the system rather than on individual differences (Nichols, et al, 2004; Sunderberg, et al, 2002). These concepts, thus, function on the concept that family members function independently to change their problematic behaviors while increasing levels of differentiation.
There are numerous family therapeutic methods each working towards benefiting the family while focusing on individual growth. For example, within communication and Satir family therapy, the family is seen as a whole whereas each member affects each part, or each person. With this view that the family is a holistic system, the roles of the members influence the effectiveness of family functioning through their influence on rules, communication processes, and responses. Within the experiential family therapy approach, family therapy tends to stress the importance of experiencing and expressing emotions through the increase of helping each member feel a sense of belonging. Within the experiential therapy the therapist will express the here and now and expand upon the present symptoms and the escalation of stress. Solution-focused family therapy approach assumes that change is an inevitable and constant part of life. Solution-focused family therapy attempts to take the strengths and competencies already present in the family and build on these skills. Thus, solution-focused family therapy addresses the problems of concern (Nichols, et al, 2004; Sundberg, et al, 2002). There a many more family therapeutic methods, all which work to assist the family and target individual needs while supporting the growth in productive human relationships.
Understanding briefly various family therapeutic methods leads to an overall comprehension of family therapy sessions. Family therapeutic sessions focus on explaining present symptoms, which have brought the family to therapy. These particular issues, problems, stresses, create excessive boundaries, enmeshments, and dissatisfaction. Therapists must be very cautious when handling family situations, confronting family issues, and highlighting certain topics which are of a sensitive nature. The belief that the therapists is playing “mind tricks” during certain phases of the counseling sessions may be conceived by various family members. However, one must understand that family members are experiencing emotional highs; individual family members may be putting up barriers because they do not want to believe they may be harming or harmed by other family members; and the unraveling of the family history is being presented. Thus, the therapist may be utilizing what is conceived as “mind tricks” in order to maintain an objective viewpoint while attempting to preserve an analytical stance and understand the family relationships.
Utilizing “mind tricks” within family therapy may be a method that leads to the creation of positive family relationships. “Mind tricks” may thus, be a term that leads to a negative connotation and harmful to the positive effects of therapy. Is the therapist using “mind tricks” or working towards understanding while helping family members comprehend the issues at hand? Consequently, what may happen when a psychologist uses “mind tricks” in family therapy? Positive results or negative effects?
Ackerman, N.W. (1958). Psychodynamics of Life Life: Diagnosis and Treatment of Family Relationships. New York: Basic Books.
Nichols, M.P., & Schwartz, R. C. (2004). Family Therapy: Concepts and Methods. Boston: Pearson.
Sunderberg, N.D., Winebarger, A. A., & Taplin, J.R. (2002). Clinical Psychology: Evolving Theory, Practice, and Research. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.