Lexicon of Couples and Family Counseling
P - R
Pagenkopf, Virginia. The birth name of Virginia Satir.
Palazzoli, Maria Selvini. Co-founder and developer of the Milan model of strategic family therapy.
Papp, Peggy. Worked with Lynn Hoffman and others at the Ackerman Family Therapy Institute in New York, using a model that evolved from strategic interventions to social constructionism.
paradox. A self-contradictory statement or position based on equally acceptable premises.
paradoxical interventions. Associated with strategic family therapy; the therapist directs the family to do what appears to be the opposite of what the family needs, including prescribing the symptom, restraining family change, and ordeals.
parent effectiveness training. A model of parenting developed by Thomas Gordon that is based on the person-centered therapy of Carl Rogers; much of this model is incorporated in the parent training programs called STEP and Active Parenting.
parentification. A child is put in the role of a parent, having to care for the parents and/or other siblings.
parent value system. Values held by a single parent or individual values held by each parent.
participatory ethics. Based on a postmodern, social constructionist philosophy, participatory ethics is an ethical decision-making model that involves clients in conversations about what is ethical for both the family practitioner and the clients.
part objects. In object relations theory, a part of a caregiver, usually the mother’s breast, to which the child attaches in infancy.
parts parties. Satir’s psychodramatic process for integrating different parts of people’s inner systems.
passive acceptance. The first stage of a feminist identity model in which women accept the roles and gender stereotypes that have been fostered by the dominant culture.
patriarchy. Patriarchy comes from the Latin word Patri which means father. It involves the misuse of power and control by masculine authority, either individually or systemically; patriarchy discriminates against and oppresses both genders and often is manifest as male privilege and sexism.
pattern. Repeated behaviors, processes, or experiences to which meaning is attached.
Patterson, Gerald. A behavioral therapist who developed one of the first behavioral models for working with delinquent children.
Pavlov, Ivan. A Russian behaviorist who developed classical conditioning.
Pedesky, Christine. A cognitive therapist who trained with Aaron Beck, and who currently is an international trainer in the model.
Peller, Jane E. Solution-focused therapist from Chicago, she is the co-author of two books on this model.
Perls, Fritz. Founder of Gestalt therapy as it is practiced in the United States.
permissive parenting. A dysfunctional form of parenting in which children are allowed to do what they want. It is characterized by high responsiveness (giving in to children) and low demand (rules and order).
personal is political. A feminist therapy belief that one’s personal way of being cannot be understood outside of the social, cultural, and political contexts that have impacted the person, including an understanding of gender-role socialization, internalized sexism and patriarchy, and sociopolitical norms and laws that oppress women and men. This principle values the emergent voices of women as a political statement and consciousness-raising.
personality priorities. Developed by Nira Kfir, these are Adlerian ways of coping with stress similar to Satir’s communication stances.
personalization. A type of cognitive distortion; a form of arbitrary inference that occurs when someone attributes external events to oneself without sufficient evidence, such as when a comment about movie star’s weight is taken to mean “She thinks I’m fat.”
person-centered therapy. Developed by the humanist psychologist Carl Rogers in the 1940s and 1950s, this model encouraged congruence and self-actualization through the active listening and empathy of the client. Rogers approached his clients with unconditional positive regard in the present, and communicated understanding through reflections of feeling.
perspective. A certain way of seeing or experiencing that individuals bring to life events.
perspectivist model. A family systems model that relies on multiple viewpoints or lenses in family assessment and tailoring interventions.
Petry, Sueli. Co-author with Monica McGoldrick and Randy Gerson of Genograms: Assessment and Intervention.
phallic stage. Freud’s third stage of child development consisting of two periods: The oedipal period and the latency period. Repression is the most common defense mechanism at this stage.
phantasy. In object relations theory, this is a psychological fantasy.
phenomenology, (adj. phenomenological). A study of perceived experience(s); the theory that people behave according to their perceptions.
Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic. The clinic where Salvador Minuchin, Jay Haley, and others developed structural family therapy.
placating. Deferring to others and/or wanting everyone else to be happy: One of Satir’s communication stances; similar to Kfir’s personality priority of pleasing.
play. Engaging in activities that are immediately pleasurable. Used in symbolic-experiential therapy as a dialectical intervention; the more one can play, the greater the capacity for seriousness. Play is at the heart of what Whitaker considers “craziness.” If one is free to be crazy, one also is free to adapt, to be sane.
pleasing. Seeking to make others happy; one of Kfir’s personality priorities. It has a similar meaning to what Satir calls the placating stance.
Polster, Erving. A master Gestalt therapist and author of many books, articles, and videos on the development of the model with special attention paid to the development of self. He is the co-author (with Miriam Polster) of Gestalt Therapy Integrated.
Polster, Miriam. A master Gestalt therapist and author of many articles and several books, including Eve’s Daughter: The Forbidden Heroism of Women and with her husband, Erving, Gestalt Therapy Integrated.
Popkin, Michael. An Adlerian, he wrote and developed a training model for Active Parenting.
positioning. A strategic family therapy intervention that paradoxically overstates the severity of the problem: When the client indicates that things are really bad, the therapist suggests that they are probably hopeless.
positive connotation. A form of reframing, used primarily by the Milan group of strategic family therapists, to suggest that family symptoms have a positive use.
positive feedback loops. From cybernetics, a feedback loop that serves notice to the system that change is needed and modifications in process must take place.
positive reinforcement. A pleasant stimulus that follows a desired behavior, resulting in an increase in that behavior; positive reinforcement may be applied continuously or intermittently on fixed or variable ratios or time intervals.
possibility therapy. The name William O’Hanlon now uses for solution-oriented therapy.
postmodern feminists. Feminist therapists who address patriarchy as one form of dominant-knowledge position and use deconstruction and discourse analysis to examine how reality is socially constructed and influenced by power and hierarchical relationships.
postmodern perspective. A belief in multiple realities, and a valuing of multiple perspectives, voices, and narratives. A rejection of positivism that views knowledge as relative and co-constructed within given contexts. Postmodernism is the philosophical epistemology for social constructionism.
power. One’s ability to influence or control situations or events.
power struggles. Dreikurs’ second goal of children’s misbehavior characterized by either active or passive fights with adults or peers; a goal which invites parental responses of anger or defensiveness and leads to feelings of being challenged or controlled.
Prata, Guiliana. One of the Milan group who developed the Milan model of strategic family therapy.
prediction task. A formula task used by solution-focused and solution-oriented therapists to increase chances of success: “Today, let’s predict whether your problem will be better or the same tomorrow. Tomorrow, rate the way your day goes and compare it to your prediction. What do you think made a difference in a right or wrong prediction? Do this each day until we meet again.”
preferred outcomes, solutions, or stories. The social constructionist idea that, given an opportunity and support, clients actually can develop a life that they choose and prefer over what they have been living.
prejudice. Active discrimination against a person or group.
Premack principle. A behavioral intervention in which preferred activities are used to reinforce (or are contingent upon) behaviors that are less likely to occur.
prescribing the symptom. A paradoxical intervention used in strategic family therapy that forces clients either to give up their problem or symptom or to recognize that it is under their control.
presence. To focus on clients with interest and even fascination, bringing all of the therapist’s senses to bear in meeting the people with whom she or he will work.
presenting problem. The problem or concern brought to counseling or therapy by an individual or the family. Presenting problems become a primary focus in structural, strategic, and cognitive-behavioral family therapies.
pretend techniques. A paradoxical intervention used in strategic family therapy and designed by Cloe Madanes that asks family members to pretend to have the problem or symptom with each other. The capacity to pretend indicates that it is really under the control of individuals or the family as a whole anyway.
primary process. The act of forming a picture of what the id wants in order to satisfy a drive or instinct.
primary reinforcements. Reinforcements that are physical in nature, such as food.
principle ethics. Ethical decision making based on the application of specific principles. Principle ethics is the underlying foundation for most ethical codes in the helping professions.
private logic. A term used by Adler to denote personal distortions in thinking that are at odds with common sense. The most common form of private logic would involve irrational beliefs or automatic thoughts based on distortions in cognitive schema, as these are described by cognitive-behavioral therapists.
problem-saturated stories. From narrative therapy, stories that individuals or families bring to therapy that are oriented around significant problems and have become dominant in the family members’ lives.
problem-solving training. Used by cognitive-behavioral family therapists, problem-solving training is a systematic process that helps parents and families to use a series of steps to analyze an issue, identify and assess new approaches to the issue, and develop ways to implement new solutions for the issue.
problem talk. What solution-focused therapists call the complaints and problem presentations of clients.
process and process model (Satir). Considers the “how” of interaction in addition to the “content” of interactions: A process lens is an additional perspective to those proposed as metaframeworks. Process model is a name that Satir used to convey her emphasis on process over content in therapy. It is a term she used between the developments of her conjoint family therapy and the human validation process model.
process of change. Satir’s change model that tracks movement from a status quo interrupted by a foreign element, leading to chaos and a need for support from internal and external resources that may generate new possibilities and eventually a new integration. New integrations automatically become a new status quo, and the process of changes starts all over again.
projection. An early defense mechanism of the ego in which parts of the self are seen as externally part of someone else; it is often associated with Freud's oral stage.
pseudo-hostility. A show of anger or conflict to cover up more problematic or dysfunctional aspects of the family system.
pseudo-mutuality. A show of intimacy and harmony to cover up more problematic, conflictual, or dysfunctional aspects of the family system.
pseudo-self. Bowen’s term for people who have a low degree of autonomy, are emotionally reactive, and unable to take a clear position on issues.
psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic theory. Of or pertaining to the model developed by Sigmund Freud. Modern neo-Freudians are called object relations therapists, and they are engaged in the development and use of attachment theory. David and Jill Savege Scharff have applied this model to couples and family therapy.
psychological disclosure. The third stage of Adlerian therapy in which motives or goals are disclosed to clients in a tentative manner, and clients are asked to consider and comment on the disclosure.
psychological investigation. The second stage of Adlerian therapy, focusing on and assessment of family constellation and birth order, life tasks, a typical day, and early recollections.
psychology of use. Adler used this term to mean that we know people by how they act or use their traits and capacities: It is the opposite of a psychology of possession (or descriptions of what they have within them).
psychosomatic families. A term used by Minuchin to describe families who are overly enmeshed with the symptom bearer. Minuchin once pinched a child and asked the father if he felt the pain: The father responded that he did. When Minuchin asked the mother if she felt the pain, she responded that she did not, but noted she had poor circulation.
punishment. A behavioral term used to describe an unpleasant stimulus that temporarily suppresses or decreases unwanted behaviors: It is a term seldom used by contemporary behaviorists today. Punishment is considered by Adlerians to be an imposition of authoritarian power: Adlerians prefer the use of natural and logical consequences.
purpose. Central to Adlerian therapy, it is what is intended or that which motivates, as in the goals of misbehavior in children or a discovery of the purpose of a feeling, such as anxiety.
questions of difference. An umbrella term used by solution-focused and solution-oriented therapists to describe questions that open up space in families to consider other possibilities and generate solutions. Questions of difference include exception questions, scaling questions, and the miracle question.
quid pro quo. Literally, something for something. A contract for an exchange of equal value: As used by cognitive-behavioral family therapists, it is often a negotiated contract between partners in which each partner works on behaving the way the other wants.
racism. The discrimination and oppression of people of color, based on race, ethnicity, or culture: the presumption of privilege for Caucasians or the dominant race of any given country or community.
radical feminists. Feminist therapists who are more likely to focus on patriarchy and the social activism that is required to eliminate it. Within family therapy, their goals include the transformation of gender relationships; sexual, procreative, and reproductive rights; and the equalization of household chores, partnerships, parenting, and access to employment outside the home.
Rank, Otto. A psychoanalyst who came to the United States and initiated the field of social work in Washington, DC. His views on union and separation support the development of what is now attachment theory.
rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT). REBT is a cognitive-behavioral approach to therapy developed by Albert Ellis.
rationalization. A defense mechanism of the ego associated with the anal stage. Giving a good reason for why one behaves in a certain way.
Rayner, Rosalie. Assistant to John Watson who helped him with the experiment on Little Albert.
R.E.C.I.P.E. Jean McLendon’s acronym for the ingredients in the Satir model that facilitate therapeutic change: resourcefulness, empowerment, congruence, inner system, pattern, and externalization.
reciprocity. Interactions between family members in which the behavior of one is complementary or dovetails with the behavior of another.
recognition reflex. Dreikurs’ description of a child’s body reflex (a twinkle in the eye and a quick smile) when a goal of misbehavior has been properly disclosed.
recursive. One part, stage, or event influencing and being influenced by every other part, stage, or event in the system.
reflecting team. Tom Andersen’s process for having a group of observers share their reactions with the family after a session. Within social constructionism, the reflecting team serves to provide clients with multiple perspectives and creates dialogues and dialogues about dialogues.
reframing. Relabeling individual or family behaviors, symptoms, problems, or processes to highlight the good intentions behind them or to make them more amenable to change or therapeutic intervention. Used across models, Adlerians tend to use it to highlight good intentions or motives; Satir tends to use it to generate new awareness or possibilities in communication; and structural and strategic family therapists tend to use it to describe symptoms or problems in more-human, everyday language.
reinforcements. Any stimulus that maintains or increases a given behavior. Positive and negative reinforcements are examples.
relapse prevention. Methods of helping individuals and families not fall back into old patterns after treatment is finished.
relative influence questions. From narrative therapy, questions designed to explore how much influence the problem has had on the client(s) versus how much influence the client(s) has/have had on the problem.
Remer, Pam. Co-author with Judith Worrel of Feminist Perspectives in Therapy: An Empowerment Model for Women.
reorientation. Re-education or re-directing clients toward a more productive way of living; the last phase of Adlerian therapy.
repress/repression. A defense mechanism of the ego associated with Freud’s phallic stage. When events or feelings become threatening to the child, repression is the mechanism of the psyche by which these events/feelings are made unconscious.
resiliency. The ability of families to bounce back from adversity and to make the most of their internal and external resources.
resistance. Clients or families having a different goal from the counselor or therapist (Adler); clients or families regulating contact (Gestalt); clients or families opposing or retarding progress in therapy; clients not accepting interpretations in psychoanalysis.
resourcefulness. Accessing the internal and external resources needed to face life, problems, or difficulties in an effective manner. In the Satir model, the family practitioner is often a significant external resource for the client, supporting the family and its members through the process of change.
responsiveness. Baumrind’s term for parenting that includes warmth, effective reciprocity with children, and appropriate attachment or connectedness.
restraining family change. Originally a paradoxical intervention developed by the strategic family therapists at the Mental Research Institute, the family is directed not to change anything they are doing in relation to the symptom or problem, to go slowly. If the family does as they are directed to do, they discover that they have control of it. If they let go of the symptom or problem, it is over.
restructure/restructuring. What structural family therapists attempt to do with dysfunctional families.
revelation. The second stage of a feminist identity model in which women begin to notice and see the impact of patriarchy in their lives.
revenge. Dreikurs’ third goal of children’s misbehavior; a goal that invites parental responses of hurt or wanting to get even; sometimes, a goal parents use with children when they feel hurt or defeated.
reward. A positive reinforcement used by behaviorists. Considered by Adlerians to be a bribe for positive behavior, they prefer the use of encouragement.
Richeport-Haley, Madeline. Wife of Jay Haley and co-author of his last book, The Art of Strategic Therapy.
Riskin, Jules. Early practitioner with Don Jackson and others at MRI.
rituals. Repeated patterns of behavior or experience often used to mark or celebrate special occasions. As used in strategic family therapy, they are a set of prescribed actions designed to change family rules.
Robertson, Patricia E. A feminist therapist and, prior to retirement, chair of the Department of Human Development and Learning at East Tennessee State University.
Rogers, Carl. Developed the model known as person-centered therapy and was a teacher of Thomas Gordon, the developer of Parent Effectiveness Training.
ropes. Satir therapists use ropes to highlight human communication and human connections in families.
Rosman, Bernice L. An early associate of Salvador Minuchin.
rubber fence. A term used by Lyman Wynne to indicate the ability of tightly controlled, pathological families to let members function in the outside world, but haul them back into family isolation if the members went beyond simple tasks like going to school or work.