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Core Focused Family Therapy, moving from chaos to clarity

Core Focused Family Therapy
By Judye Hess and Ross Cohen

Trade Paper, 144 pages
Published by Idyll Arbor
Publication date: 2008
ISBN: 9781882883707

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Read the first three chapters...

Introduction General Principles The Therapist

The Book

Core Focused Family Therapy: Moving from Chaos to Clarity is unique in the family therapy world today in that it is particularly appropriate for students and practitioners who favor a humanistic, experiential approach to working with families but lack the guidance to put this kind of approach into practice. The book guides the student or the individual therapy practitioner to make the paradigm shift to working with a systemic model by explaining this shift in a clear and specific way that can easily be understood.

Furthermore, it predicts some of the sticking points that might occur in family therapy if the practitioner had not been forewarned. By translating the therapist responses that could take many years to acquire into concrete interventions that are easy to learn, the book serves to take the elusive magical quality out of this seemingly intuitive approach to family therapy and turn it into a method that is quite tangible and user-friendly. Both conceptually grounded and practically focused, Core Focused Family Therapy: Moving From Chaos to Clarity bridges theoretical orientations and is an immediately useful guide for both novice and experienced family therapists alike.

The Reviews

This amazing book seems to me to be appropriate for two audiences: those learning about family therapy for the first time, since this book lays out much of what any beginning family therapist needs to know; and those interested in Judye Hess's particular form of family therapy. Regarding the latter, this book seems to me an important contribution to family therapy, describing what I believe is a new approach. Reading this book, I found myself thinking: this is the way that family therapy ought to be done; why has no one ever written such a book before? If there was justice in this world, this book would be read in every family therapy class and be part of every family therapist's continuing education requirement.

Dan Wile, PhD
Author of Couples Therapy: A Nontraditional Approach, After the Honeymoon, How Conflict Can Improve Your Relationship, and After the Fight: Using Your Disagreements to Build a Stronger Relationship.

This practical and clinically based book is written by a master teacher and clinician. Students and practitioners will welcome its systematic and direct approach to understanding and intervening in the sometimes confusing and complex issues faced by families…The examples are well chosen to elucidate the principal understandings the author has achieved by her studies, teaching, and clinical experience. Highly recommended.

Alan Leveton, MD
Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, California (Retired)
Founder and Past-President, Association of Family Therapists of Northern California

An exceptional, inspirational work by a very experienced family therapist, who knows that the truth of who we are is best openly expressed in a safe environment with the guidance of an integrative, experiential, systems-trained therapist.

As we search for common desires and feeling states amongst family members, the therapist's empathy provides a deeper bridge of love and a clearer perception of who we really are deep down in our core being, and whom we are living with. This deeper understanding of who we are creates a leap in emotional self-awareness.

A solid book for trained professionals and a well designed roadmap for graduate students to see the whole family as a system. Clearly a paradigm shift for both professionals and families alike. This book will help to reduce anxiety in clients, graduate students, and professionals. The book also teaches techniques in working with clients and how the therapist can use themselves on many levels.

Martin Kirschenbaum, PhD
Professor of Family Clinical Psychology
Founder and former President of the California Graduate School of Family Clinical Psychology

Hess and Cohen's Manual for Core Focused Family Therapy is a valuable contribution in understanding individual dynamics in interpersonal relationships. Both conceptually grounded and practically focused, it bridges theoretical orientations and is an immediately useful guide for both novice and experienced family therapists in clinical and training settings. I intend to use it regularly in my supervision and teaching.

Terence Patterson
Professor of Counseling Psychology
University of San Francisco
Board certified in Couple & Family Therapy (ABPP)
Past President, APA Division of Family Psychology
President, Association of Family Therapists of Northern California

The authors have provided a comprehensive and effective clinical approach for working with families. What particularly distinguishes this book from much of the current family therapy literature is the emphasis on the role of the therapist. The authors explore in depth the skills and personal attributes of the therapist that are critical for achieving positive treatment results.

Rodney J Shapiro, PhD
Clinical Professor, UCSF
Director, Networks Family Counseling Center

Core Focused Family Therapy brings back the originating wisdom of family therapy, reminding us that the interactional and communicative presence of the therapist is more important than his or her professed orientation. The field of family therapy (and all people helping professions) easily gets lost in theory and organizational politics, forgetting that therapy is primarily about experience - realizing the feelings underneath the words and the truths of the ways we are with others.

CFFT reconnects family therapy to its core roots and I highly recommend it as an effective means of waking up what is "family" about "family therapy."

Inspired by the prodigious clinical work of experiential therapist Carl Whitaker as well as the grand gestalt practitioners, the authors theoretically ground the family in the pioneering systems views of Minuchin and Bowen. They avoid the many trivial dead ends and stalled efforts the field too often has spawned and go for the heart of what is essential in bringing forth experiential family therapy. If you want to BE a family therapist (rather than talk gibberish about it), then check out this important more-than-an-introduction to family therapy.

Bradford Keeney, PhD
Professor, Transformative Studies
California Institute of Integral Studies
San Francisco, California

I find Core Focused Family Therapy extremely reassuring and confidence building. It both affirms the skills I have as an experienced psychotherapist and offers me tools to expand my ability in working with families. The authors describe their approach comprehensively and provide clear and relevant clinical examples throughout the book. I am especially inspired by the way in which they model being present, direct, and openhearted towards each of the family members in a way that fosters trust and vulnerability.

Cathy Diamond, MFT

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