Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Training Experiential Family Therapists

  • David V. KeithEmail author
  • Yajaira Y. Paparone
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_666


(Thorana Nelson)

Training in Symbolic Experiential Family Therapy


Symbolic experiential family therapy (SEFT) emerged from the work of Carl Whitaker and colleagues (Thomas Malone, John Warkentin, and Richard Felder) at the Atlanta Psychiatric Clinic in the 1950s and 1960s (Whitaker and Malone 1981). If modern evidence-based couple and family therapy is concert music, SEFT would be folk music but with jazz chording, apparently simple, still subtle. It is a clinically based atheoretical way of working, thus it might be characterized as an anti-school school of psychotherapy. Experiential family therapy has a somewhat idiosyncratic quality; thus, each experiential family therapist inevitably invents their own particular pattern, based on their own rhythm and knowing. SEFT has emerged out of psychotherapeutic work with schizophrenia, severe psychosomatic disorders, suicidal patients, and child psychotherapy. But it is appropriately used in the wide range of...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatrySUNY Upstate Medical UniversitySyracuseUSA
  2. 2.Staff Psychiatrist St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center Child PsychiatristElmcrest Children’s Residential Treatment FacilitySyracuseUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Thorana Nelson
    • 1
  1. 1.Utah State UniversitySanta FeUSA