The process of attending to and observing one's own sensing, thinking, feelings, and actions; paying attention to the flowing nature of one's present-centered experience.
Blocks to energy
Paying attention to where energy is located, how it is used, and how it can be blocked.
An invitation for the client to become aware of discrepancies between verbal and nonverbal expressions, between feelings and actions, or between thoughts and feelings.
The process of interacting with nature and with other people without losing one's sense of individuality. Contact is made by seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and moving.
Continuum of awareness
Staying with the moment-to-moment flow of experiencing, which leads individuals to discover how they are functioning in the world.
A split by which a person experiences or sees opposing forces; a polarity (weak/strong, dependent/independent).
A role-playing intervention in which clients play conflicting parts. This typically consists of clients engaging in an imaginary dialogue between different sides of themselves.
Ready-made techniques that are sometimes used to make something happen in a therapy session or to achieve a goal.
Procedures aimed at encouraging spontaneity and inventiveness by bringing the possibilities for action directly into the therapy session. Experiments are designed to enhance here-and-now awareness. They are activities clients try out as a way of testing new ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Paying attention to and exploring what is occurring at the boundary between the person and the environment.
Describes how the individual organizes the environment from moment to moment and how the emerging focus of attention is on what is figural.
Those aspects of the individual's experience that tend to be out of awareness or in the background.
The stuck point in a situation in which individuals believe they are unable to support themselves and thus seek external support.
The uncritical acceptance of others' beliefs and standards without assimilating them into one's own personality.
An individual's tendency to take actions and make contacts that will restore equilibrium or contribute to change.
Paradoxical theory of change
A theoretical position that authentic change occurs more from being who we are than from trying to be who we are not.
Through a therapist asking what and how questions, clients are assisted in noticing what is occurring in the present moment.
The process by which we disown certain aspects of ourselves by ascribing them to the environment; the opposite of introjection.
Relational Gestalt therapy
A supportive, kind, and compassionate style that emphasizes dialogue in the therapeutic relationship, rather than the confrontational style of Fritz Perls.
The act of turning back onto ourselves something we would like to do (or have done) to someone else.
Exercises or interventions that are often used to bring about action or interaction, sometimes with a prescribed outcome in mind.
Unexpressed feelings (such as resentment, guilt, anger, grief) dating back to childhood that now interfere with effective psychological functioning; needless emotional debris that clutters present-centered awareness.
The process of therapists seeing in their clients patterns of their own behavior, overidentifying with clients, or meeting their own needs through their clients.
An ongoing process that involves a practitioner developing awareness of beliefs and attitudes, acquiring knowledge about race and culture, and learning skills and intervention strategies necessary to work effectively with culturally diverse populations.
The ability to pay attention to what one is thinking, feeling, and doing. This is a crucial first step in self-care.
Refers to counselors directly attempting to define a client's values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
A higher level of ethical practice that addresses doing what is in the best interests of clients.
Evaluating the relevant factors in a client's life to identify themes for further exploration in the counseling process.
This is an ethical concept, and in most states therapists also have a legal duty not to disclose information about a client.
Identifying a specific mental disorder based on a pattern of symptoms that leads to a specific diagnosis; sometimes part of the assessment process.
Dual or multiple relationships
A counselor assumes two (or more) roles simultaneously or sequentially with a client. This may involve assuming more than one professional role or combining professional and nonprofessional roles.
To make ethical decisions, consult with colleagues, keep yourself informed about laws affecting your practice, keep up to date in your specialty field, stay abreast of developments in ethical practice, reflect on the impact your values have on your practice, and be willing to engage in honest self-examination.
Evidence-based practice (EBP)
Psychotherapists are required to base their practice on techniques that have empirical evidence to support their efficacy.
The right of clients to be informed about their therapy and to make autonomous- decisions pertaining to it.
The view of ethical practice that deals with the minimum level of professional practice.
An approach taken by practitioners who want to do their best for clients rather than simply meet minimum standards to stay out of trouble.
Using data generated during treatment to inform the process and outcome of treatment.
A legal concept that generally bars the disclosure of confidential communications in a legal proceeding.
The analysis and explanation of a client's problems. It may include an explanation of the causes of the client's difficulties, an account of how these problems developed over time, a classification of any disorders, a specification of preferred treatment procedure, and an estimate of the chances for a successful resolution.
The second stage of psychosexual development, when pleasure is derived from retaining and expelling feces.
An elaborate explanation of human nature that combines ideas from history, mythology, anthropology, and religion.
The biological and psychological aspects of masculinity and femininity, which are thought to coexist in both sexes.
A feeling of impending doom that results from repressed feelings, memories, desires, and experiences emerging to the surface of awareness. From a psychoanalytic perspective, there are three kinds of anxiety: reality, neurotic, and moral anxiety.
An anonymous stance assumed by classical psychoanalysts aimed at fostering transference.
Borderline personality disorder
A disorder characterized by instability, irritability, self-destructive acts, impulsivity, and extreme mood shifts. Such people lack a sense of their own identity and do not have a deep understanding of others.
Brief psychodynamic therapy (BPT)
An adaptation of the principles of psychoanalytic theory and therapy aimed at treating selective disorders within a preestablished time limit.
The traditional (Freudian) approach to psychoanalysis based on a long-term exploration of past conflicts, many of which are unconscious, and an extensive process of working through early wounds.
From a Jungian perspective, the deepest level of the psyche that contains an accumulation of inherited experiences.
An ego-defense mechanism that consists of masking perceived weaknesses or developing certain positive traits to make up for limitations.
Newer formulations of psychoanalytic theory that share some core characteristics of classical analytic theory, but with different applications of techniques; extensions and adaptations of orthodox psychoanalysis.
The therapist's unconscious emotional responses to a client that are likely to interfere with objectivity; unresolved conflicts of the therapist that are projected onto the client.
According to Erikson, a turning point in life when we have the potential to move forward or to regress. At these turning points, we can either resolve our conflicts or fail to master the developmental task.
A Freudian concept that refers to a tendency of individuals to harbor an unconscious wish to die or hurt themselves or others; accounts for the aggressive drive.
In denial there is an effort to suppress unpleasant reality. It consists of coping with anxiety by closing our eyes to the existence of anxiety-producing reality.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
A blend of cognitive behavioral and psychoanalytic techniques that generally involves a minimum of one year of treatment.
An ego-defense mechanism that entails redirection of some emotion from a real source to a substitute person or object.
A technique for uncovering unconscious material and giving clients insight into some of their unresolved problems. Therapists participate with clients in exploring dreams and in interpreting possible meanings.
The process by which the latent content of a dream is transformed into the less threatening manifest content.
The psychosocial approach of Erik Erikson, which emphasizes the development of the ego or self at various stages of life.
Intrapsychic processes that operate unconsciously to protect the person from threatening and, therefore, anxiety-producing thoughts, feelings, and impulses.
A primary technique, consisting of spontaneous and uncensored verbalization by the client, which gives clues to the nature of the client's unconscious conflicts.
The final stage of psychosexual development, usually attained at adolescence, in which heterosexual interests and activities are generally predominant.
The part of personality, present at birth, that is blind, demanding, and insistent. Its function is to discharge tension and return to homeostasis.
A theory stating that instincts and intrapsychic conflicts are the basic factors shaping personality development (both normal and abnormal).
As an ego defense, this may involve individuals identifying themselves with successful causes in the hope that they will be seen as worthwhile.
A developmental challenge, occurring during adolescence, whereby the person seeks to establish a stable view of self and to define a place in life.
A technique used to explore the meanings of free association, dreams, resistances, and transference feelings.
A period of psychosexual development, following the phallic stage, that is relatively calm before the storm of adolescence.
The instinctual drives of the id and the source of psychic energy; Freudian notion of the life instincts.
Instincts oriented toward growth, development, and creativity that serve the purpose of the survival of the individual and the human race.
Maintaining the analytic frame
Refers to a range of procedures, such as an analyst's anonymity, regularity, and consistency of meetings, as a structure for therapy.
The fear of one's own conscience; people with a well-developed conscience tend to feel guilty when they do something contrary to their moral code.
A process whereby group members develop intense feelings for certain others in a group; an individual may see in others some significant figure such as a parent, life-partner, ex-lover, or boss.
Extreme self-love, as opposed to love of others. A narcissistic personality is characterized by a grandiose and exaggerated sense of self-importance and an exploitive attitude toward others, which hides a poor self-concept.
Characterized by a grandiose and exaggerated sense of self-importance and an exploitive attitude toward others, which serve the function of masking a frail self-concept.
The fear that the instincts will get out of hand and cause one to do something for which one will be punished.
A newer version of psychoanalytic thinking, which focuses on predictable developmental sequences in which early experiences of self shift in relation to an expanding awareness of others. It holds that individuals go through phases of autism, normal symbiosis, and separation and individuation, culminating in a state of integration.
The initial phase of psychosexual development, during which the mouth is the primary source of gratification; a time when the infant is learning to trust or mistrust the world.
The third phase of psychosexual development, during which the child gains maximum gratification through direct experience with the genitals.
The idea that the id is driven to satisfy instinctual needs by reducing tension, avoiding pain, and gaining pleasure.
An ego-defense mechanism that involves attributing our own unacceptable thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and motives to others.
Psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy involves a shortening and simplifying of the lengthy process of psychoanalysis.
The interplay of opposing forces and intrapsychic conflicts that provide a basis for understanding human motivation.
The Freudian chronological phases of development, beginning in infancy. Each is characterized by a primary way of gaining sensual and sexual gratification.
Erikson's turning points, from infancy through old age. Each presents psychological and social tasks that must be mastered if maturation is to proceed in a healthy fashion.
An ego-defense mechanism whereby we attempt to justify our behavior by imputing logical motives to it.
A defense against a threatening impulse, involving actively expressing the opposite impulse.
The fear of danger from the external world; the level of such anxiety is proportionate to the degree of real threat.
Reality principle The idea that the ego does realistic and logical thinking and formulates plans
of action for satisfying needs.
An ego-defense mechanism whereby an individual reverts to a less mature form of behavior as a way of coping with extreme stress.
An analytic model based on the assumption that therapy is an interactive process between client and therapist. The interpersonal analyst assumes that countertransference is a source of information about the client's character and dynamics.
A model that characterizes therapy as an interactive process between client and therapist in which countertransference provides an important source of information about the client's character and dynamics.
The ego-defense mechanism whereby threatening or painful thoughts or feelings are excluded from awareness.
The client's reluctance to bring to awareness threatening unconscious material that has been repressed.
A theory that emphasizes how we use interpersonal relationships (self objects) to develop our own sense of self.
A Jungian archetype representing thoughts, feelings, and actions that we tend to disown by projecting them outward.
An ego defense that involves diverting sexual or aggressive energy into other channels that are socially acceptable.
That aspect of personality that represents one's moral training. It strives for perfection, not pleasure.
Time-limited dynamic psychotherapy (TLDP)
Through this form of psychoanalytically oriented therapy, clients gain a sense of what it is like to interact more fully and flexibly within the therapy situation. They are helped to apply to the outside world what they are learning in the office.
The client's unconscious shifting to the therapist of feelings and fantasies, both positive and negative, that are displacements from reactions to significant others from the client's past.
The transfer of feelings originally experienced in an early relationship to other important people in a person's present environment.
That aspect of psychological functioning or of personality that houses experiences, wishes, impulses, and memories in an out-of-awareness state as a protection against anxiety.
A process of resolving basic conflicts that are manifested in the client's relationship with the therapist; achieved by the repetition of interpretations and by exploring forms of resistance.
An intervention that is concise, deliberate, direct, efficient, focused, short-term, and purposeful.
Adlerian brief therapy
Faulty, self-defeating perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs that may have been appropriate at one time but are no longer useful. These are myths that are influential in shaping personality.
Adler identified five psychological positions from which children tend to view life: oldest, second of only two, middle, youngest, and only. Actual birth order itself is less important than a person's interpretation of his or her place in the family.
An individual's awareness of being part of the human community. Community feeling embodies the sense of being connected to all humanity and to being committed to making the world a better place.
Childhood memories (before the age of 9) of one-time events. People retain these memories as capsule summaries of their present philosophy of life. From a series of early recollections, it is possible to understand mistaken notions, present attitudes, social interests, and possible future behavior.
The process of increasing one's courage to face life tasks; used throughout therapy as a way to counter discouragement and to help people set realistic goals.
The social and psychological structure of the family system; includes birth order, the individual's perception of self, sibling characteristics and ratings, and parental relationships. Each person forms his or her unique view of self, others, and life through the family constellation.
An imagined central goal that gives direction to behavior and unity to the personality; an image of what people would be like if they were perfect and perfectly secure.
A congruence between the client's and the counselor's goals and the collaborative effort of two persons working equally toward specific, agreed-on goals.
Guiding self-ideal Another term for fictional finalism, which represents an individual's image of a goal of perfection.
We cannot be understood in parts; all aspects of ourselves must be understood in relation to each other.
Adler's original name for his approach that stressed understanding the whole person, how all dimensions of a person are interconnected, and how all these dimensions are unified by the person's movement toward a life goal.
The early determining force in behavior; the source of human striving and the wellspring of creativity. Humans attempt to compensate for both imagined and real inferiorities, which helps them overcome handicaps.
A special form of awareness that facilitates a meaningful understanding within the therapeutic relationship and acts as a foundation for change.
Understanding clients' underlying motives for behaving the way they do in the here and now.
Universal problems in human life, including the tasks of friendship (community), work (a division of labor), and intimacy (love and marriage).
The core beliefs and assumptions through which the person organizes his or her reality and finds meaning in life events. Our perceptions of self, others, and the world. Our characteristic way of thinking, acting, feeling, living, and striving toward long-term goals.
The process of gathering early memories, which involves learning to understand the goals and motivations of the client.
Adlerians seek basic information about the client's life as a part of the lifestyle assessment process.
Focus on the way people perceive their world. For Adlerians, objective reality is less important than how people interpret reality and the meanings they attach to what they experience.
Basic convictions and assumptions of the individual that underlie the lifestyle pattern and explain how behaviors fit together to provide consistency.
The phase of the counseling process in which clients are helped to discover a new and more functional perspective and are encouraged to take risks and make changes in their lives.
A sense of identification with humanity; a feeling of belonging; an interest in the common good.
A strong inclination toward becoming competent, toward mastering the environment, and toward self-improvement. The striving for perfection (and superiority) is a movement toward enhancement of self.
Striving for superiority
An individual's way of thinking, feeling, and acting; a conceptual framework by which the world is perceived and by which people are able to cope with life tasks; the person's personality.
Style of life
The process whereby the counselor helps clients tell their life story as completely as possible.
Used in an initial assessment to gain understanding of the purpose that symptoms or actions have in a person's life. The question is, How would your life be different, and what would you do differently, if you did not have this symptom or problem?
The act of perceiving accurately the internal frame of reference of another; the ability to grasp the person's subjective world without losing one's own identity.
Accurate empathic understanding
A growth force within us; a directional process of striving toward self-regulation, self-determination, realization, fulfillment, perfection, and inner freedom; the basis on which people can be trusted to identify and resolve their own problems in a therapeutic relationship.
The state in which self-experiences are accurately symbolized in the self-concept. As applied to the therapist, congruence is matching one's inner experiencing with external expressions; congruence is a quality of realness or genuineness of the therapist.
An approach that makes use of various artssuch as movement, drawing, painting, sculpting, music, and improvisationin a supportive setting for the purpose of growth and healing.
Expressive arts therapy
A movement, often referred to as the third force, that emphasizes freedom, choice, values, growth, self-actualization, becoming, spontaneity, creativity, play, humor, peak experiences, and psychological health.
The ability to be with someone fully in the present moment; being engaged and absorbed in the relationship with the client.
The necessary and sufficient characteristics of the therapeutic relationship for client change to occur. These core conditions include therapist congruence (or genuineness), unconditional positive regard (acceptance and respect), and accurate empathic understanding.
Therapeutic core conditions
The nonjudgmental expression of fundamental respect for the person as a human; acceptance of a person's right to his or her feelings.
Unconditional positive regard
An alternative to psychoanalytic and behavioral approaches; under this heading are the experiential and relationship-oriented therapies (existential therapy, person-centered therapy, and Gestalt therapy).
Third force in therapy
A Danish and German word whose meaning lies between the English words dread and anxiety. This term refers to the uncertainty in life and the role of anxiety in making decisions about how we want to live.
A condition that results from having to face choices without clear guidelines and without knowing what the outcome will be.
Authenticity The process of creating, discovering, or maintaining the core deep within one's being; the process of becoming the person one is capable of becoming.
(dasein analyse) The emphasis of this therapy approach is on the subjective and spiritual dimensions of human existence.
An outcome of being confronted with the four givens of existence: death, freedom, existential isolation, and meaninglessness.
The result of, or the consciousness of, evading the commitment to choosing for ourselves.
Feelings of despair and anxiety that result from inauthentic living, a failure to make choices, and avoidance of responsibility.
Seeks a balance between recognizing the limits and the tragic dimensions of human existence and the possibilities and opportunities of human life.
A condition of emptiness and hollowness that results from meaninglessness in life.
A philosophical movement stressing individual responsibility for creating one's ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
An inescapable aspect of the human condition; we are the authors of our lives and therefore are responsible for our destiny and accountable for our actions.
Lacking awareness of personal responsibility and passively assuming that our existence is largely controlled by external forces.
Developed by Frankl, this brand of existential therapy literally means healing through reason. It focuses on challenging clients to search for meaning in life.
A response out of proportion to the situation. It is typically out of awareness and tends to immobilize the person.
A method of exploration that uses subjective human experiencing as its focus. The phenomenological approach is a part of the fabric of existentially oriented therapies, Adlerian therapy, person-centered therapy, Gestalt therapy, and reality therapy.
A state of functioning with a limited degree of awareness of oneself and being vague about the nature of one's problems.