Alert clients to inherited wounds + unawareness

Selected Definitions for
Human-service Providers

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council


The Web address of this glossary is

Created September 29, 2015

        Clicking underlined links here will open a new window. Other links will open  an informational popup, so please turn off your browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site. If your playback device doesn't support Javascript, the popups may not display. Follow underlined links after finishing this article to avoid getting lost.

        This article is part of a free online self-study course for human-service providers who work with troubled people, couples, and families. This course builds on seven online self-improvement lessons for all adults.

        This article assumes you're familiar with:

  • the intro to this Web site and the premises underlying it.

  • seven online self-improvement lessons,

  • the intro to this course for human-service providers. and...

  • these grieving, and inner-family definitions.

        The effectiveness of your thinking, speech, and writing depends partly on the words you use. Words have different meanings to different people, depending on the context and their experience. I offer these definitions to help you understand clearly what I'm trying to say in this course and Web site.   .

      As you review these definitions, note which are unfamiliar or "different" and how you react to them. I don't propose these meanings as absolutes. I offer them to help you clarify your own definitions. Try speaking your current definition of any term out loud before you compare it to the proposed meaning here.

 Selected Professional Definitions

      Use the following to form, clarify, or refine your definitions. Underlined links lead to definitions on this page or in other articles. Plain links will open an informational popup. These items are in alphabetic order. if you don't see a word or term, scan these general definitions.

Abuse, abusive



Behavior, human

Blending (true-Self disabling)

Bonding block (wound)

Bottom , hitting

Change, human

Client (human service)

Clinical service, also see Human service




Confront, Confrontation



Dissociate, dissociation

Disorder (psychological)

Dysfunction see Toxic

False self (personality)

Family structure

Family system

Family therapy

Human service, also see Clinical service

Inner family system (IFS)

Inner-family system therapy

Inner pain

Intervention, professional

Mapping a family structure

Medical model (of therapy)

Mental Health and Illness

Metasystem, client-provider

Modality, human-service

Needs, human

Outcome (service)

Paranoia, paranoid

Parts work (therapy)

Pathology, pathological

Personality , psyche

Problem, problem-solving

Pseudo recovery



Reality distortion

Recovery from addiction and/or trauma

Resistance (client)

Role strain and confusion


Subself (personality part)

System - see also metasystem





True self (personality)

Wounds, psychological

ASSESSMENT - in this Web site, this noun or verb refers to "evaluating the symptoms or level of...

  • knowledge of key topics

  • current beliefs about key topics

  • ancestral traumas and wounds

  • psychological wounds

  • primary personal needs

  • relationship strengths and stressors

  • courtship danger signs

  • communication skills and effectiveness

  • grieving progress and blocks

  • family or group functionality (nurturance level)

  • parenting effectiveness, and/or...

  • kids' developmental status

This Web site provides many quizzes, Q&A articles, worksheets, checklists, and  "status checks" to help site visitors and students assess these things.

<< terms index >>

BEHAVIOR - premise - all human behavior and relationships are motivated by primal instincts + learned reflexes + current physical, psychological, and spiritual needs (discomforts). Psychological needs are caused by an array of personality subselves (brain regions).


  • human-service clients and providers must clearly identify their respective primary and long-term needs to be effective; and...

  • effective service-providers will intentionally encourage clients and co-workers to learn how to identify (a) their needs and (b) practical options for filling them (i.e. learn how to problem-solve) .Few clients know how to do this. 

See this article for more perspective on needs (a possible reference for clients).

<< terms index >>

CHANGE - typical human-service clients seek to learn and/or validate something, and/or to change (start, increase, decrease, or stop) something in their lives. Attitude and behavioral changes occur because of new knowledge, environmental shifts, new experiences, and aging.

        Changes can be unconscious (spontaneous and reflexive) or conscious (intentional), and temporary or permanent. Attitude changes may or may not cause significant behavioral changes, depending on whether the client is guided by their true Self or not.

        Premise - permanent personal change requires active personality subselves to want to (a) trust the resident true Self, (b) live in the present, and (c) shift their priorities. Implication - service providers need to know how to assess whether clients are guided by their true self or not. Few providers can do this, presently. Can you?

        For more perspective, see these articles on...

<< terms index >>

CLIENT - In this self-study course for human-service providers, client can mean any adult or child seeking (or needing) some personal service - e.g. students and trainees, medical patients, customers, co-workers, church and other group members, and therapy, counseling, social work, personal development, and life-coaching clients. See Human service for perspective.   

<< terms index >>

CLINICAL SERVICE - is the subset of "human service" that helps troubled people, couples, and families to function better. Clinical service is provided by psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and social workers, (some) counselors, clergy and pastoral counselors, personal-growth consultants, and spiritual advisors.

        Clinical service usually includes teaching as well as strategic "interventions" to promote personal wholistic health and relationship satisfaction. Non-clinical human services usually focus on providing information and instruction, not on increasing self-awareness or psychological changes.

<< terms index >>

COACHING - generally, this human service is an experienced person helping a less-experienced person learn how to do some physical, mental, or social activity more effectively. Part of effective coaching is accurately assessing problems the student is experiencing as they learn, and suggesting practical solutions.

        Coaches who (a) understand the concept of psychological wounds and personality subselves and who (b) are guided by their true Self can provide better service to their students. This is specially true for the emerging profession of "life coaching," which includes elements of psychotherapy. In my experience, few contemporary coaches of any sort are aware of (a) their and their clients' psychological wounds and unawareness, and (b) this opportunity to heal and grow.

<< terms index >>

CONFLICT - human-service providers experience up to three concurrent conflicts in their work: (a) within themselves (b) within their clients, and (c) between them and their clients.

        Internal (innerpersonal) conflicts occur when two or more active personality subselves disagree over some idea, priority, value, or action. This typically causes the host person "confusion," "indecision," and distracting internal debates.

        Interpersonal (social) conflicts occur when the dominant subselves in each person disagree with each other over something, and/or when their communication styles clash. Social conflicts are most likely when one or both people are controlled by a false self and unaware of this and/or how to communicate effectively.

        To give effective service, providers (you) need to...

  • be aware of each type of conflict when they're happening,

  • be steadily guided by their true Self, and to...

  • know how and when to teach clients about personality subselves; and...

  • know how to negotiate and problem-solve internal and social conflicts effectively,

        and providers need to know...

  • how to teach clients this awareness and conflict-resolution ability.

Do you have these requisites yet?   

<< terms index >>

COUNSELING - this human service provides clients with (a) information and/or (b) advice (suggested actions). Counseling can be requested or imposed. The latter may be kindly motivated, but is inherently disrespectful ("I know better than you how you should live your life.") This often causes resentment and c/overt "resistance." How counseling is provided (respectfully and empathically or not) and when (client is undistracted and receptive or not) affects the client's reaction to it.

        Education offers information but no advice. Coaching can include information, motivation, and advice. Therapy usually includes all of these plus personal insight (awareness), and strategic interventions to promote desired psychological and behavioral changes  Each type of service can range from effective to ineffective. For best outcomes, providers and clients need to agree on which type of service is appropriate.

 << terms index >>

CONFRONT, CONFRONTATION - The Latin root of confront means "to stand before." At strategic times, human-service providers need to confront clients who are distorting reality (like denial) and/or causing themselves and others distress by their unawareness, distortions, avoidances, and behaviors. Not confronting is a form of enabling.

        Effective confrontations are respectful attempts to raise clients' awareness of themselves and their choices, not to criticize, shame, control, manipulate, or guilt-trip. To confront successfully (cause desired changes), providers need to

  • be guided by their true Self;

  • be objectively aware of clients' harmful misperceptions, distortions, and avoidances;

  • know how to assert effectively and listen empathically;

  • know how to respond to expected client "resistance," including how to avoid power struggles and resolve values and loyalty conflicts, and relationship triangles; and...

  • teach clients how to confront others effectively, including kids.  

Providers also need to confront themselves (i.e. their subselves) and each other - e.g. in supervision, training, co-therapy, and consultations.

<< terms index >>

DISSOCIATE, DISSOCIATION - this noun and verb has several meanings for providers and clients. It may refer to a temporary reflexive "mental state" where a person narrows their conscious awareness to some inner or outer focus and loses awareness of their broader environment and reality. Their perception of current reality and their mental processing becomes locally or chronically distorted.

        Dissociations can take many forms, like day and night dreaming, fantasizing, flashbacks ("re-living"), hypnotic and ecstatic trances, epiphanies, delusions, hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, and personality-subself take-overs (blending). Dissociation occurs on a continuum, and may be judged by the severity and frequency of its occurrence - i.e. "minor and occasional (episodic)  to major and chronic.

        Dissociation may occur from ingesting "mind-altering" chemicals, some traumas, exhaustion, self-induced trance, or an organic (brain) malfunction. I believe most or all non-organic, non-chemical dissociation is a symptom of personality subselves disabling the resident true Self.

        In the last generation, psychiatrists have formally recognized Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) as one form of mental dissociation. They recently changed this label to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) because people with the condition seemed to change their identities depending on which "alter" (personality subself) controlled the host person.

        In this course and Web site, one of six common psychological wounds is  reality distortion. This includes most forms of non-organic dissociation. Significant non-organic dissociation can be reduced over time via education and skilled, patient ''parts work.'' Few clients and providers know this, so far.

 << terms index >>

DISORDER (psychological) - the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is about to publish the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) - one of two international schemes for classifying human organic and psychological pathology. The classification includes several types of "disorders" - e.g. mood, anxiety, and personality disorders. "Disorder" means, broadly, "abnormal mental-social functioning," relative to "mental health."

        Though the DSM is published for mental health professionals, some lay people and self-help media are beginning to use some DSM  terminology to describe common mental-behavioral conditions - e.g. "I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)." These psychiatric labels are based on the century-old Freudian "medical model" of mental illness.

        I propose that these DSM labels promote troubled clients feeling they're "diseased" and "sick." That promotes anxiety and assuming that medications are appropriate solutions to their troubles, rather than effective therapy. In my professional opinion after 33 years' research, most or all nonorganic "psychiatric disorders" are not "illnesses." They are a wonderfully wide array of symptoms of being ruled by a "false self" - which does not merit medication.

        I propose that human-service providers should avoid outdated, misleading  medical-model (DSM) terms and diagnoses for psychological and behavioral problems - including the various "disorders." A more appropriate global label is "psychologically wounded.''

 << terms index >>

DYSFUNCTION - As family-systems therapy continues to grow in popularity, the term "dysfunctional family" has entered our vocabulary. Human-service providers, the media, and typical clients rarely understand what a "functional family system" is, so they use the term "dysfunctional" to acknowledge "something's wrong" with a family, group, or relationship.

        Premise - the "function" of any human group or relationship is to consistently fill the primary needs of all people involved. This implies that providers need to understand these needs, and be able to educate clients, the media, and other professionals on them. Opinion - human-service providers have an ethical responsibility to clients to understand and be able to explain "family dysfunction."

        Lessons 4 and 5 in this educational Web site proposes what people in relationships and in families need from each other. It also suggests that describing a relationship's or group's nurturance level is more useful than its "functionality."  Nurturance refers to filling needs of living things.

        A key opportunity for any human-service provider is to encourage and motivate clients to (a) become aware of their primary needs, and to (b) learn how to problem-solve (fill needs effectively). Are you doing this?    .

 << terms index >>

FAMILY SYSTEM - a system is a group of related elements which behave according to identifiable rules. Families and other groups can be viewed as systems, whose elements are people, roles, boundaries, relationships, and subsystems. Family-system behaviors are caused by human biology, needs, instincts, and adults' awareness, values, and inherited psychological wounds.       

        Family systems which don't meet all members' developmental and local primary needs well enough are labeled "dysfunctional." Troubled (wounded, unaware) clients usually were raised in dysfunctional (low nurturance) families, and often unconsciously recreate them as adults.

        Human-service providers can more accurately assess clients' (and their own) problems if they know about family systems and how they function. This is specially true of medical professionals, psychologists, social workers, and pastoral and other therapeutic counselors.

        Useful systemic assessment and teaching tools are (a) this article, (b) genograms, and (c) family-structure maps

<< terms index >>

FAMILY THERAPY - Clinical human service which treats an entire family system as the client is "family therapy." It exists because human behaviorists increasingly accept that individual personal problems like low self esteem, addiction, and "depression" are usually caused and amplified by dysfunction in their early-childhood and current families. Many providers now believe that permanent personal healing (recovery) requires improving current client-family functioning.

        Effective family therapy is complex, and requires knowledge of...

  • human personality formation and functioning;

  • two levels of human change;

  • human developmental, primary, grieving, communication, relationship, and spiritual needs;

  • effective thinking and communication skills;

  • bonding, losses, effective grieving; and ''pro-grief'' families.

  • how to assess for incomplete grief and how to complete it;

  • family-system and group-therapy principles;

  • how to analyze and resolve relationship problems;

  • how to identify and resolve interpersonal boundary problems;

  • how to identify and reduce family-role confusion and conflicts;

  • how to identify and resolve values and loyalty conflicts and relationship triangles;

  • how to teach and motivate family members to problem-solve; and...

  • if. how, and when to shift between family, couple, and individual therapy.

        Few clinicians, family-life educators, counselors, coaches, and other human-service professionals (like lawyers, police, and mediators) have training and experience in all these topics. Neither do their employers, program directors, supervisors, trainers, and evaluators.

        Implication - to raise their professional effectiveness, human-service providers need to (a) understand the purpose and utility of family therapy, and (b) help troubled clients seek and find competent family therapists when appropriate. This is specially true for divorcing and stepfamily clients  Can you do that now?

        This free, seven-lesson Break the Cycle course (by a veteran family-systems therapist) provides useful information and resources on many of these essential topics. Option - whatever service you provide, study this course yourself, and then encourage your clients to invest time and energy in studying the course - specially if they care for kids. To decide whether you can benefit from the course, take these quizzes.

<< terms index >>

HUMAN SERVICE - in this Web site, human service means any voluntary or fee-based actions by a qualified provider toward helping troubled kids, teens, adults, couples, families, and other groups improve their wholistic health, communication, relationships, and nurturance levels (functioning).

<< terms index >>

INNER-FAMILY SYSTEM (IFS) - Veteran psychologist Dr. Richard Schwartz suggests that the system of "subselves" that form normal human personalities can be called an "inner family." These (your) subselves relate to each other like members of physical families - they vie for control; form alliances; and ignore, criticize, fear, protect, play with, care for, fight, communicate with, and/or reject each other.

        Like physical families, personality subselves have boundaries, subsystems (e.g. the Managers), and relate to each other by the same rules that govern human behaviors and groups. Inner families range between chaotic and leaderless (dysfunctional) to harmonious and functional (well-led by the true Self, Higher Self, and Manager subselves).

        Grown Wounded Children who have felt socially isolated in their lives and who have little or no bonding with their genetic relatives or other people can feel a welcome sense of belonging and companionship when they consider having an inner-family where ever they go. This is specially welcome to Lost, Abandoned, and Lonely Inner Kids and their Guardian subselves. Introducing subselves to each other and welcoming them to their internal family can be a very moving experience for the host person and the provider who facilitates this

        For more perspective on personality subselves, see (and refer clients to) these Lesson-1 articles:

<< terms index >>

INNER-FAMILY SYSTEM (IFS) THERAPY - Family-systems therapy is a methodical way of intervening with family members as a group to improve their "functioning" (filling members' primary needs). This therapeutic process focuses on (a) educating family adults, and (b) assessing and strategically improving family roles, communications, relationships, and boundaries. This may be a stand-alone clinical process, or it may combine with individual and couples therapy, depending on the clients' needs and the clinician's style and abilities.

        Inner-family system (IFS) therapy applies the same clinical goals and techniques to improve the functioning of an individual's personality subselves as a group. Key IFS goals are to:

  • assess the client to learn (a) their psychological assets and surface stressors, (b) the nurturance level of their childhood and current families, and (c) what they want to accomplish in therapy; .

  • educate the client on personality subselves, and validate subselves' reality;

  • identify and assess clients' subselves to learn their functions (roles), and whether they're living in the present and trust the true Self;

  • work with individual subselves to (a) bring them into the present time as needed, and to (b) learn to trust and follow the leadership of the resident Self and other Manager subselves;

  • teach and motivate the client to recognize and reduce false-self dominance in any situation; and...

  • teach clients how to recognize wounded people (ruled by a false self), and how to relate to them.

  • Key: teach clients caring for children why and how to protect the kids from inheriting toxic [psychological wounds and unawareness].

        My clinical experience over 33 years suggests that all personal, marital, parenting, and family "problems" stem from (a) adults' inner-family dysfunction (psychological wounds) and unawareness, and from (b) living in a low-nurturance ("dysfunctional") environment. Implication - for permanent positive change, typical clients need to want to do some form of inner-family system (IFS) therapy with a qualified provider.

       For more perspective, see these selected books on working with personality subselves ("multiplicity").

        Some IFS variants are...

  • "Inner Voice Dialog" therapy (Stone and Winkleman, 1989);

  • "Ego States" Watkins & Watkins, 1997, and others);

  • Psychodrama;

  • Psychosynthesis (Roberto Assagioli, 1965, 2000);

  • various D.I.D. intervention schema, usually aiming at personality integration or fusion of alters (subselves);

  • Transactional Analysis variations (Berne, 1971); and...

  • "Cast of Characters" therapy (Sandra Watanabe - Contemporary Family Therapy, 8, 75-78., 1986).

INTERVENE, INTERVENTION - to "intervene" means "to come between." In the context of this course, human-service providers intervene when their behavior (or lack of behavior) causes some change in clients' perceptions, priorities, attitudes, and/or behaviors.

        Providers' interventions can be spontaneous and unplanned, like their  language and behaviors, or they can be planned and intentional, like questions, restatements, silence, reframing, suggesting, brainstorming, homework, confrontations, explanations, role-plays, referrals, handouts, demonstrations, teaching tales (parables), and strategic frustrations and "mistakes."  

        Interventions can be made to individual clients or co-workers, to couples together, and to whole families and groups. Lay people and service providers are becoming increasingly aware of why, when, and how to do interventions with active addicts. A powerful intervention with all clients - specially parents and grandparents - is to suggest that they may be harmed by the toxic [wounds + unawareness] cycle.

<< terms index >>

MEDICAL MODEL - Most theories of abnormal human behavior and "mental illness" are founded on the century-old global adoption of ideas from medical doctors like Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and their disciples. The most widely used professional resource for categorizing and treating psychological and psychosomatic disorders is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) - published by learned psychiatrists - medical doctors.

        Generations of mental-health professionals and the public have been conditioned to think of "mental problems": as an illness. This promotes the assumption that non-organic problems should be treated with drugs (medicine) - alone or with "therapy." Similarly, unaware lay and professional people have been taught to believe that any addiction is a "disease" or "sickness." I propose it is a reflexive attempt to mute unbearable inner pain, not a disease or a "character flaw."

        This traditional medicine-based view has become known as "the medical model" of human psychological pathology and treatment. Since the advent of family-systems therapy in the 1950s, this medical framework has been losing credence. Individual non-organic "mental problems" are increasingly seen as conditions resulting from family dysfunction, not illnesses.

        The medical model has at least three drawbacks: it promotes...

  • medicating symptoms (surface problems), rather than discovering the real cause of personal problems [psychological wounds + unawareness];

  • not recognizing that early-family environment is a major cause of non-organic psychological conditions; and the model promotes...

  • clients feeling they are powerless to change their "(mental) illness", like people with cancer believe they can't heal by changing their attitudes, thinking, and environment. 

        I encourage you to help your clients avoid feeling "sick" and "diseased," and thus assuming that prescribed drugs are the best treatment for their "mental" problems. Option - hand out or refer people to this article to help them release this harmful, outdated belief. 

<< terms index >>

MENTAL HEALTH AND ILLNESS - "Mental" refers to the human "mind," which is hard to define. Our conscious and unconscious minds are portions of our brain that cause our thoughts, ideas, moods, dreams, emotions, and behaviors. Our personality is a unique mix of brain regions (subselves, or "parts") that shapes our mental and behavioral functioning.

        "Health" refers to how well a living organism is "functioning" (in someone's opinion) compared to some norm or baseline. "Illness" occurs when an organism's function is impaired because of (a) cellular and/or genetic malfunction, or by (b) toxic microbes, viruses ("germs"), or substances.  

          So "mental health" is a loose term describing how well someone's mind is "working" - i.e. interpreting sensory info, identifying needs, reviewing options, making decisions, and behaving. "Mental illness" is an outdated, misleading term (in my opinion) because non-organic brain malfunction is caused by inherited [psychological wounds + unawareness] and low-nurturance environments - not germs.

        I propose that a more realistic way to assess and describe someone's mental functioning is to estimate how often they show behavioral signs of being consistently guided by their true Self. Being guided by well-meaning false selves is a condition, not an "illness" or "sickness"! 

 << terms index >>

MODALITY - human service can be provided to individual clients, pairs (like mates, siblings,. and parent-child dyads), and families or groups. Service can be provided by one professional, two (co-therapy), or a team of several providers of different skills. In this course, "modality" refers to a strategic (best) combination of clients and providers.

        Typically, service to troubled persons can lead to service to them and their mates ("couples therapy"), and then to their current family. Veteran clinical service providers know if and when to propose - and how to manage - each of these three service modalities.

<< terms index >>

NEEDS (human) - a basic premise in this course and Web site is that all human behavior is caused by instincts and current primary needs - i.e. physical, psychological, and spiritual discomforts. Kids and adults automatically seek to reduce current discomforts and increase their pleasure.

        An endless conflict all people experience is choosing between immediate and long-term gratification (need fulfillment). Balancing this choice well is most likely  when a person is guided by their true Self.

         Another premise is that the needs people try to fill are often superficial - i.e. people are often unaware of the primary needs causing their current conscious discomforts. So human-service service providers do well to learn how to identify clients' primary needs, and then teach clients how to do the same. See this for more detail.

< terms index >>

OUTCOME  - human-service providers exist to fill some current needs of their clients. When the service ends, all people involved evaluate the outcome - i.e. whether the provider's and client's respective needs were filled well enough in a mutually-acceptable way.

< terms index >>

PARANOIA, paranoid, delusional - traditional terms for symptoms of false-self dominance and reality distortion.

< terms index >>

PARTS WORK - see Inner-family System (IFS) therapy.

PATHOLOGY, pathological - Microsoft Bookshelf 2000 defines pathology as "The scientific study of the nature of disease and its causes, processes, development, and consequences." I avoid these two clinical terms because I believe non-organic human mental, behavioral, and relationship problems are not diseases. I use the term condition instead of pathology, as in "dissociation and addictions are wholistically-harmful human conditions."

        Many words and phrases have powerful unconscious mental associations. Thinking "I am diseased" (or "sick")  and/or having a professional say or imply "You are diseased" can promote anxiety, shame, and the assumption that medication is the appropriate treatment for non-organic psychological problems. Medication may reduce the symptoms of some personal problems (e.g. depression)  but will not affect the [psychological wounds + unawareness] that cause the symptoms.

 <<  terms index >>

PROBLEM, PROBLEM SOLVING - Clients seek help to reduce or solve personal, relationship, and family "problems." Problems are unfilled needs. Many clients - specially those governed by a false self - have trouble defining specifically what they really need.

        The first part of human service is helping clients identify (a) their primary needs and (b) what blocks them from satisfying these needs. Another part is helping clients learn how to solve their internal and social "problems." Effective service and problem-solving are most likely when providers and clients are aware and guided by their wise true Selves. 

<< terms index >>

PSEUDO RECOVERY - Here recovery refers to (a) achieving sobriety with some addiction, and (b) significantly reducing psychological wounds and unawareness. Clients ruled by a false self can make superficial attitude and behavioral changes (e.g. dieting and exercising), and then they revert to their previous behaviors and symptoms ("relapse").

        Such temporary changes can be called "pseudo (or trial) recovery," because the changes don't really reduce the inner pain and unawareness that cause the original "problems." Trial recoveries are useful because they provide experience that can promote a client eventually hitting bottom and freeing their true Self to guide them. This inner-family change + education yield true (permanent) recovery.

<< terms index >>

PSYCHOSOMATIC - this term acknowledges that "the mind" can influence or cause bodily malfunctions ("illnesses") in ways we don't understand. There is increasing evidence that "mental illness" (inherited psychological wounds and unawareness) can promote physical sickness and premature death.

        Human-service providers whose clients have physical symptoms (e.g. ulcers; migraines; cramps; digestive, breathing, and swallowing problems, etc.) need to explore whether the symptoms are organic and/or psychologically based. "Parts work"  offers a structured way to learn whether well-meaning personality subselves are causing physical symptoms as a way of communicating something.

 << terms index >>

PSYCHOTHERAPY is clinical human service with psychologically-troubled adults and kids. Traditionally it has been Freudian psychoanalysis, but there are now many different models and styles of psychotherapy.

        Professional counseling and coaching provide clients with relevant information, constructive feedback, suggestions, and confrontation; and encourage self-and social awareness. Psychotherapy does the same, and also seeks to help clients reduce psychological wounds and improve or leave toxic social environments. ''Parts work'' is an  effective strategy for reducing inner wounds.

        My clinical experience suggests that skilled family and couples therapy often leads to individual psychotherapy with one or more family members. For more perspective, see this Q&A article.

 << terms index >>

RESISTANCE (client) - counseling, coaching, and therapy usually include suggestions that clients change selected attitudes, priorities, expectations, and behaviors. If clients don't comply, the suggestions were either impractical or inappropriate, or clients' personality subselves were scared and/or unwilling to change. The latter is commonly called "resistance."

        Human-service providers may also experience resistance when they have an internal conflict  among their subselves over how to best serve the client and fill their own needs. They can also "resist" suggestions or demands by supervisors and colleagues.

        Implication - see "resistance" as a sign of false-self dominance (wounds), and invite clients to consider doing Lesson 1 and ''parts work'' to identify, reassure, and retrain the subselves that are opposing helpful changes.

 << terms index >>

ROLE STRAIN and CONFUSION - A role is a set of responsibilities and behaviors defined by people and society - e.g. mother, neighbor, mayor, and plumber.  Fulfilling a role "well" is one requisite for self esteem and contentment. Each personality subself, and each member of a social dyad, family, and group, has one or more roles to fulfill. Some roles are fixed, and others change dynamically as people and the environment evolve.

        Typical adults have many concurrent roles - e.g. parent, child, sibling, citizen, employee or student, neighbor, consumer, friend, etc. Role strain occurs when a subself or person feels unable to fulfill one or more of their roles well enough. They may have too many concurrent roles, conflicting roles, or roles that exceed their abilities. Role confusion stresses subselves and people when they aren't clear on what's expected of them.

        Typical clients aren't aware of these two stressors and what to do about them. Effective human-service providers will be able to assess for each of these dynamics and know how to relieve them. For more perspective, see this.

 << terms index >> 

THERAPY - In this Web site...

  • psychotherapy means strategic work with a person to raise their awareness and reduce their psychological wounds. Psychotherapy with kids or teens usually requires also working with the parenting adults (family therapy). Counseling and coaching are subsets of psychotherapy.

        There are many types of psychotherapy, like psychoanalysis, paradoxical, problem-focused, rational emotive, brief, object-relations, EMDR, Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), and transactional analysis (TA). This course and Web site propose that ''parts work'' (inner-family therapy) is specially effective with typical wounded clients.  

  • couples (marital) therapy is strategic work to improve the relationship between two committed partners. Two common goals of this work are...

    • assessing and reducing partners' psychological wounds and unawareness (Lesson 1), and...

    • teaching them to communicate and problem-solve more effectively (Lesson 2).

        For some incompatible couples, this work aims to help them...

  • end their relationship ("divorce") civilly,

  • understand why their relationship didn't work,

  • reduce significant guilts,

  • grieve their respective losses (broken bonds), and...

  • motivate them to accept and reduce their respective psychological wounds and protect any young people from them.  

  • family therapy is purposeful intervention by one or more providers with many or all members of a family to improve their functioning as a group. "Functioning" means consistently filling each adult's and child's developmental and daily primary needs well enough. Effective family therapy often needs to include couples and individual therapy - specially if adults are parents.

  • group therapy is strategic facilitation by one or more providers with a group of troubled individuals, couples, or families.

  • co-therapists are two providers working as a team with the same client.

        Therapy can be formal or informal. It may be provided in a private practice, a public or private agency, or in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

                For more perspective, see this Q&A article.

<< terms index >>

TOXIC - the traditional meaning of this word is "poisonous." In this Web site and course...

  • a toxic family or group is one that promotes psychological wounds and unawareness in its members. Toxic (dysfunctional) groups always have identifiable traits and a low nurturance level;

  • a toxic relationship is one that amplifies psychological wounds, and hinders true wound-reduction (recovery) in any child or adult;

  • a toxic childhood is one with significant child neglect, abandonment, and abuse;

  • a toxic attitude or belief is one that promotes personal and/or social stress; and...

  • a toxic human-service is one which mis-diagnoses, misinforms, and misdirects clients, and inhibits them from learning how to recognize and fill their primary needs in healthy ways. Usually this results from wounded, unaware providers and dysfunctional organizations

   << terms index >>

TRAUMA - is any life event or process that temporarily or chronically hinders personal wholistic health, functioning, and growth. Widespread psychological wounding occurs because of early-childhood trauma - i.e. parental abandonment, neglect, and abuse. Traumas can occur suddenly or over a long time, and vary in their psychological and social impact from minor to massive.

        Some personal losses (broken bonds) can be "traumatic" depending on their onset, magnitude, and impact. Significant losses require patient 3-level grieving and a pro-grief environment. Survivors of early-childhood trauma often have trouble grieving significant losses. Implication - Human-service providers need to know how to spot incomplete grief and help clients to fully accept and adapt to their losses.  

        ''Parts work'' and "grief work" are effective ways to help clients heal the toxic effects of significant traumas (e.g. PTSD). Part of grief work is helping clients identify and improve their ''grieving policies'' - i.e. their beliefs and values about how to mourn major losses alone and as a family. Many human-service providers lack training in effective parts work (Lesson 1) and grief work. Lesson 3 offers basic knowledge about losses and healthy grieving.

 << terms index >>

This article was very helpful  somewhat helpful  not helpful   

Share/Bookmark  Prior page  /  Print page 


 site intro  /  course outline  /  site search  /  definitions  /  chat contact


terms index  >  definitions, page 2

Created September 29, 2015