Overcoming the Challenges Christian Youths Face Today

The Christian youth are facing a lot of challenges. In a world which is increasingly becoming skeptical about anything related to God. A young Christian, for example, is unable to reconcile the ideas of evolution taught in school and the creation story they learned in church. There is also the pressure to conform to fit in a group. Preteen, teenage, and early adulthood years is the period when we strongly crave affirmation from our peers. The problem for the Christian youth is that conforming means abandoning Christian values in part or wholly. A sense of being untrue to our values may later bring regret or shame, which is detrimental to emotional well being. At this critical time, therefore, it is important for Christian youth to look for guidance to avoid problems later.

Christians are daily confronted by issues that pressure us to conform. When this happens, our initial reaction is to avoid the problem, but later, though, we start asking ourselves questions. For example, if all our peers are having intimate relationships, why not me? Why not smoke? Why should I go to church when everybody else seems to be having fun somewhere else?-and so many other questions. Asking these questions is the initial step in overcoming challenges. The second step, which is the most important, is looking for the right answers from a Christian perspective.

As true Christians, we are not called to conform, but to a renewal in Christ Jesus. That is what St. Paul told Christians in Rome in Romans 6: 3-4. The act of baptism is a sign of new life all Christians, including Christian youths, are called to. The bible says clearly that we should strive to be right with God, as opposed to pleasing our friends or striving for their affirmation.

As a youth who is under pressure do conform to sinful practices, the meaning of baptism should not be lost to them. But in a very fast world, it's easy to compromise. The solution lies in commitment to faith. One way of growing in faith and reinforce defense against harmful peer pressure is becoming a member of a bible study group. The bible itself contains answers to the problems that youths face. Studying the bible in a group is a useful way not only on learning the word as written, but also offers a forum where Christians can openly discuss the challenges they face daily, how they overcome them, or how one can overcome in reference to bible teachings.

Often, Christian youths think that the challenges they face are unique to them. The truth, however, is that all of us, including the older Christians, faced the same problems during their youth. Talking to them therefore, is a great way of learning how to overcome the challenges. Lastly, it is very important to keep the right company. Writing to Corinthians, St Paul said that "good company destroys good morals." While it is good to have non-Christian friends, hanging out with them all the time may cause more harm than good.

Samantha Gold is a writer with Gifts of Love and Devotion, an online store with a large selection of Unique Christian Gifts for every occasion including baptism, first communion, wedding, and memorials. Visit Gifts of Love and Devotion for gifts for Confirmation.

If I Was Not A Christian

What is hindering so many people from seeking the Kingdom of God is the physical church. If I was not a Christian, I doubt that I would ever consider being part of an organization that stressed a belief I see evidenced by their actions. But if I was striving to understand this great Faith, how would I go about finding my way? If I was not a Christian, how would I begin my quest for the invisible in a visible world? If I was not a Christian, in which of the many label displaying buildings could I find the Faith that so many claim? If I was not a Christian, what Bible would I explore when there are so many different types? If I was not a Christian, which of the contradictory teachings should I listen to? If I was not a Christian, how would I respond to the weekly "dues" that are required for experiencing a religious gathering? If I was not a Christian, would I have to adapt to rules and regulations to be part of these "separatists"? If I was not a Christian, would I really want to be like my church- going neighbor whose life is not any different than mine?

The visible church seems to be exhibiting a conflicting message. Christians talk about the love of God, but so many of our actions fail to exhibit the reality of our claim. The Church must step up and be the Biblical evidence of God's love, or step down as the physical evidence of God's Kingdom.

If I was a part of the Christian community, I would do everything I could to reach out to the seeking and wayward. If I was a Christian, I would make sure my actions evidenced my belief. If I was a Christian, I would do whatever it took to make it easier for a non-believer to find the way into the fellowship of the faith. If I was a Christian, I would be a living example of the invisible Truths. If I was a Christian, I would be more interested in stressing the message instead of the label. If I was a Christian, I would supply a Bible that best complimented the original texts. If I was a Christian, I would steer the non-believer away from controversial messages and center on the simple truth of God's Word. If I was a Christian, I would make sure that financial giving was based on one's love of God and not a "pay as you go" requirement. If I was a Christian, I would make sure the Faith was not presented as rules and requirements, but as experiencing the benefits of God's love. If I was a Christian, my life would speak as loud as my words.

To reach the non-Believer, the Church must step out from its walled fortress and display its light to a darkened world. It is not inviting someone to our framed buildings, but introducing them to our God who loves them. It is not a time to share the tenets of faith that we are so dedicated to defend, but to share what God has done in our lives through Jesus Christ. Doctrines are important, but they must never precede the simple truth of the CROSS.

Believers must learn to present the pure Word, free from interpretive meanings and "discovered" hidden truths. Let us learn as the Apostle Paul did, "... not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." (I Corinthians 2:2) So many people have been turned away from the Truth by Christians who do not live the Truth they proclaim. If we are the salt of the earth, are we making people thirsty for the Truth? If we are the light of the world, are we lighting the path to our Heavenly Father? (Matthew 6:13-16) Let us ask ourselves if we are the reason people are not coming to know Jesus Christ. If we are guilty, it is time to do something about it!

What Everyone Gets Wrong About the Christian Life

The term Christian is used very loosely in this day and age. For some reason, there is a strong willingness for people to call themselves Christians on Sunday, but ignore the implications of that Monday through Saturday. There are far too many people merely drifting through life this way. Their apathetic attitude and comfortable living style protects them from challenge and risk. The notion of hard work might scare them, especially if it threatens their comfort.

As residents of the greatest country in the history of earth, we have grown accustomed to an extremely high standard of living. Within seconds, I can order a $300 piece of equipment that will arrive at my doorstep in two days. Within 1 mile of where I am currently sitting, I can stuff my face with a premium meal at nearly any price point, and I have a job that provides a constant stream of income for me to make all these things happen.

This isn't a unique place I find myself in, but it is a dangerous one.

I want to flip the attitude of this lifestyle upside down. If this is common, I want to be uncommon. I refuse to submit to a lukewarm lifestyle that rejects Christ 6 days a week. Christians should Throw Down the Gauntlet in their faith and dive headfirst into the life Christ has planned for us. This means shedding the comforts of the American life and living a life of risk and challenge for Jesus.

1 Timothy 4:7 states, "Discipline yourselves for the purpose of godliness." (paraphrased). This is an instruction, not a suggestion. Paul states that Christians are given the responsibility to be godly, and that it requires discipline. Many people are wishy-washy when it comes to their faith, ignoring God's principles if it interferes with their personal goals. Discipline is a difficult thing, requiring daily workouts and strength training to develop. If a bodybuilder only worked 1 day a week, he would fall behind quickly. The same is true of the modern Christian. The muscles of faith need constant, daily attention, and this world has no shortage of challenges to offer for exercise.

This day and age, we need leaders in the Christian community: people who will step out in faith to defend the word of God, and then live out the example Christ gave us. It's tempting to fall in line and do as everyone else is doing, but God looks for a different response on our lives. Leading is more than being in charge: it is more about the way you influence others. A laborer in the trench of a construction operation is just as capable of being a leader as the CEO of Lifeway - it just depends on your influence. Influence is good or bad, and that is up to you to decide. Live by the principles Christ has given us, and it is impossible NOT to influence others. Jesus shows us how to be a light, and this world is extremely dark.

Being a light in an otherwise dark world will threaten the comfortable. Standing for what you believe, especially when it is counter-culture will invite conflict. Conflict is actually a good thing, as it opens the opportunity to glorify God, depending on our reaction to the conflict. You can choose to react negatively, and sin in your response to it. Or, you could exercise your muscles of endurance and act godly throughout the circumstances. Whatever it is, the opportunity is there.

So the choice is yours, Modern Christian. Do you choose to conform to the world and give in to your every desire, or do you choose Christ and Throw Down the Gauntlet in faith? Choose one or the other, but at least make a choice and stick to it.

If you're interested in an all-you-can-eat buffet of inspiration, navigate to http://www.earnestengineer.com for more information on living as a Modern Christian.

Is The Christian Church More In The World Or Is The World More In The Church?

We Christians are generally not afraid to tell the world how it should live but are often afraid to tell the church how it should live. Putting it another way; as Christians (salt and light) we are called to "love the Lord our God with all our soul and heart and mind and to love our neighbors (the world) as ourselves".

We are called to love the world, not condemn it for according to the Bible, the world is already condemned.

Many people in the world, even non-Christians can quote John 3:16 which says "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."

Do we know the next verse though"

John 3:17 says "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."

Many Christians, with full 'justification' and 'standing on the WORD', condemn the practices of others when we are actually called to "go into the world and make disciples of them, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" and teaching them about Christ, and His salvation. [My paraphrasing of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20]

Does this mean we are not to be 'angry' at the sin that in the world - sins of hatred and greed and immorality and murder and the like? Of course we are but, the Lord said we are to be "in the world but not of the world"

It was finally revealed to me while studying the Bible on this issue, that I have had it all wrong - I had it the wrong way around.

I stand very firm on many social issues and it upsets me see the 'world' often making a mockery of Christian moral values. And many times they are correct, there is no perfect Christian person or Church or church leader.

What I had been wrong about was that I was angry at the people perpetrating certain acts and lifestyles instead of speaking God's salvation plan to them and showing them by MY life actions, that God's way is better than the world's way.

I was even angrier with the churches that condone some of these 'politically correct' actions and attitudes under the guise of Christian love and acceptance.

That is where the Light of Truth was shone the brightest into my spirit.

Yet, I realize I make little attempt to call other Christians to account for bringing the world's value system inside their churches.

Fellow Christians should be bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to the 'lost' world and not condemning it and we should be confronting our churches because they are 'found' yet they condemn themselves by bringing the bad news of the world to into their walls.

From the Sermon on the Mount, Christ said that we are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

He also said that we are the light of the world - like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don't hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all.

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."

The only way that the Christian church will affect the 'world' in a positive way is by showing Christ to it and standing firm on Biblical truths, not allowing the 'world's' secular, relative truths to pervade its walls.

Is there indeed more of the world in the church rather than more of the church in the world?

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Evil Eye in Christianity

The concept of the evil eye in religion is so widespread that all religious groups recognize it as something to guard against. However, these beliefs naturally vary. The evil eye in Christianity is believed to be such a danger; one that requires guarding against. It is considered to be an actual manifestation of the battle that goes on in the spiritual world. It is one of the weapons used by Satan and his forces against God and God's forces as well as the people.

Christianity believes in the existence of Satan and demons, though they are not believed to be actually manifests in physical form. The evil eye in Christianity is considered to be one of the tools that the negative forces use in order to bring harm to Christian believers.

The evil eye in Christianity is considered to be a danger not just towards the believers but also coming from them. Christianity warns its believers to protect themselves from getting affected by envy in case they themselves might be the source. Christianity warns believers not to use the eye for evil or negative purposes such as harboring negative thoughts about other people.

The Christianity's belief in the evil eye is found on some passages in the Holy Word. According to the Bible, Jesus referred to the eye as the lamp of the body. The Bible goes on to say that if a person's "eye is generous, your whole body will be full of light." However, if one's eye is evil, one's entire body will be filled with darkness. Later on in the same passage, the Bible says that "if the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"

There are also several other references to the concept in Christianity principles and beliefs. According to the Holy Word, Jesus makes a reference to the belief in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. This is found in Matthew 20:15. According to the parable, the owner of the land used the term "evil eye" when he asked the workers about their complaints or grumblings because of the land owner's generosity.

In another passage from Mark, Jesus also enumerates several evil things during a dispute with the Pharisees. The evil eye was mentioned as one of these evil things. According to the passage, the the negative effect caused by the eye comes from a person's heart and overcomes the person entirely. Several other mentions of the evil eye were found in the Bible, showing just how much influence the lucky eye belief in Christianity has over the religion.

Today the belief is mostly seen as independent of the religion of Christianity itself but more of a superstition. Even though some superstitions are frowned upon by religion as a concept, the belief in the eye is so strong that it has found a place of its own in the life of many Christians. The Christian belief relies solely on protection from God and focuses more on encouraging people to prevent having any negative thoughts. Several people, however, also rely on protective charms to shield them against the effects of the evil eye. These charms are often called evil eye jewelry but are also sometimes termed as lucky eye jewelry and charms. Evil eye jewelry such as bracelets, necklaces, and keychains are widely available. They also make great gifts. For anyone who believes and acknowledges in the power of the eye, these charms are definitely considered as must-haves.

Angie Uras is the sales and marketing manager of JEYLA (http://www.jeyla.com), the evil eye jewelry store. Angie has been working with production,marketing, and sales of evil eye jewelry for over 10 years. She currently resides in Chicago,IL but is involved in evil eye sales and marketing all over the world with close contacts in Turkey as well as a wholesaler for evil eye shops in Australia, Mexico, Spain, Canada, Russia, Greece and throughout the US.

What is the Evil Eye?

The Evil Eye has been around since the beginning of time. It simply means sending someone a thought that seems intrusive or invasive or has the power to hurt him or her. The bad fortune that results is considered to have been caused by envy. The evil eye is not necessarily considered to be intentional or associated with witchcraft or sorcery. Oddly enough, this thought form could actually be complimentary in nature. The origins of the Evil Eye are Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean. The concept was introduced into the Americas, South Pacific Islands, Asia, Africa and Australia by European explorers.

Sending someone the evil eye comes from the concept that we all have a Third Eye, located in the center of our forehead. Blinding, fogging or obscuring the third eye is often the intent of the energy's sender. Most of us have experienced the weird power of the phenomenon. All it takes is a gaze that seems to be unfriendly, indifferent or blank and seems to a couple of seconds too long. We think about it for a few minutes afterwards or perhaps an image of the person staring at us preoccupies our thoughts occasionally for the rest of the day. Perhaps that is why the British and Scottish term for the "evil eye" is "overlooking." It implies that a gaze has remained too long upon the coveted object, person or animal.

The evil eye is also known as the envious or invidious eye. In Italian it is called the malocchio and in Spanish the malojo (loosely translated as the bad eye) The evil eye is known as ayin horeh in Hebrew; ayin harsha in Arabic, droch shuil in Scotland, mauvais oeil in France, bösen Blick in Germany, and was known as oculus malus among the classical Romans.

The original belief is that any person can harm your children, livestock, fruit trees or any other evidence of prosperity just by looking at the spoils of all your good will and hard work with envy. Ironically, the curse of the evil eye is thought to be provoked by inappropriate displays of spiritual pride or excessive beauty. There is a theory that very famous people and celebrities suffer more personal misfortune than others simply because they are subjected to more "overlooking" and envy than others.

This superstition might have some grounding in evolutionary psychology as usually one animal is thought to dominate or be aggressive to another simply by staring at it for too long. Psychologically speaking, staring or glaring at someone is officially considered an intrusion into your affairs. Apparently, there is a fine line between casting a glance to casting a spell. In these post Celestine Prophecy times, this kind of stare could be compared to a kind of etheric laser beam or amoebic arm that rips open your aura. Others would describe the infliction of the evil eye as the projection of an image (such as the image of the person you have offended or hurt) so that you see only that to the exclusion of all other sight. In other words, you see that person wherever you go or feel that your life's events are always colored by your dealing with that person. Another symptom is the inability to proceed with ordinary, daily events without feeling somehow compelled to make things right with the person you have often unknowingly offended with your grandiosity.

It is common folklore that the evil eye has a dehydrating effect on its victim. It is thought to cause vomiting, diarrhea, the drying up of the milk of nursing mothers and livestock, problems with the blood, eyesight lack of rain, the drying up of wells, the withering of fruit and impotence in men. Clumsiness, stomachaches, dry coughs, diarrhea, itching, hair loss, dry skin are all thought to be physical symptoms of an evil eye attack e. On the astral level it is thought to cause the drying up of prana, chi, life force and the easy flow of prosperity in life. Part of this image might derive from the idea also, of muddy, murky or poisoned vision that is somehow attached to the victim's third eye.

Almost everywhere that the evil eye belief exists, it is said to be caused accidentally by envy or praise. Thus the phrase "Pride Goeth Before a Fall" In certain Mediterranean and eastern cultures, one is careful not to praise a child too much, lest it invite the subconscious balancing effect of the evil eye. A classic situation would be the barren woman who praises the newborn baby of a new child. Such praise would be considered inappropriate and thought to bring the evil child. One of the remedies for this would be for the mother to spit, to symbolically "rehydrate" the situation. Also, she may speak ill of the child OT counteract the effects of the praise, which might have malefic effects on the child later.

The belief that individuals have the power to cast the evil eye on purpose is more idiosyncratic to Sicily and Southern Italy, although the belief has certainly spread elsewhere - to the Southern United States and the Latin Americas. Such people are known as jettatore (projectors). They are not necessarily considered evil or envious, just born with an unfortunate embarrassing talent that causes others to avoid them. In ancient cultures, if you were thought to be the possessor of an evil eye, you were often negated by the rest of society and went unrecognized on the street without meeting anyone's eyes.

Perhaps one of the most familiar preventative measures against the evil eye is the hand gesture. The Mano Cornufo or "Horned Hand" involves extending the first and index fingers from a fist. The Mano Fico or "Fig hand" involves placing the thumb in between first and second fingers.
Historically there have been many cures for the evil eye:

In Italy, the evil eye is diagnosed by dripping olive oil into a vessel filled with water. If the oil conglomerates into the shape of an eye than the victim is considered officially cursed. Prayers are recited until the droplets of oil no longer create an eye shape.

In Eastern Europe charcoal, coal or burnt match heads are dropped into a pan of water/. If the items float then the person is considered to be the victim of a curse.

In the Ukraine, a form of ceromancy or candle reading is used to diagnose the curse. Melted wax is dripped from a candle into a pan of water. If the wax spits, splatters, or sticks to the side of the bowl then the "patient" is considered to be under the influence of the malefic eye. Usually the patient is cleansed with Holy Water. He or she is pronounced cured when the dripped wax sinks the bottom of the bowl in a round ball.

In Greece Mexico and other places, the official cure is to invite the culprit responsible for the evil eye to spit in a vessel of the holy water that is consumed by the victim.

In Mexico, rolling a raw egg over the body of the victim is the antidote. Afterwards, it is cracked open and if the metaphysician or healer divines the shape of an eye in the yolks then the person is considered to be cursed. Several eggs may be repeatedly rolled over the person's body until an egg without an eye if found. Sometimes the egg is placed underneath the person's bed overnight and cracked open in the morning.

In China the remedy for the evil eye is the Pa Kua mirror, a six-sided mirror that is hung on the front door or placed in the front window to reverse bad energy back to the sender. Some of these mirrors are convex to reflect back the bad "poison darts" or "arrows" of multiple ill wishers and some are concave to reflect energy in a definite direction back at, for instance, a nosy neighbor, whose gaze may have lingered on your garden of tulips for too long. In Feng Shui, mirrors are often used as a cure all to reflect negative energy back at all kinds of things - people, bad architecture, traffic, neighbors, physical obstructions such as trees or rocks or anything else that might considered to be a conductor of Har Shui (negative vibrations).

In India the mirroring back of the evil eye takes the form of small mirrors that are sewn, braided or crocheted into clothing. This mirroring back of bad energy is also familiar to practitioners of Wicca and Lukumi or Santeria. In India, the human eye is also considered to be a mirror of the soul. Indian women wear kohl or heavy black makeup to emphasize their eyes not only to shield themselves from evil eye but also to prevent themselves from accidentally inflicting it on others. In India cords strung with blue beads are placed on newborn babies. When the cord breaks and the beads are lost the child is considered to have a strong enough aura to protect him or herself from the evil eye. Red cords worn upon the wrist or neck are thought to have a powerful effect against ocular malevolence. A silver charm called Eye of Buddha which references the Gautama Buddha is also worn against astral attack.

In Italy, gold, silver or gems carved or cast into the shape of the Mano Fica or Mano Cornufa are used to repel the evil. The most coveted ones are made of red coral, but many versions exist today made of gemstones and plastic. They are worn by men to protect against the withering of the genitals thought to be caused by the bad eye. Also Italian in origin is the Corno or horn or devil's horn amulet that is thought to protect against the same dysfunction. The women's version is made from a twig of red coral.

In Arab cultures, superstitious types wear an eye in the form of a stone cast in the center of a hand shaped bone or metal charm A common Egyptian charm is the Buckle of Isis which represents the menstrual pad of the Goddess Isis who was the Mother of all living things. Stuffing a little prayer or spell inside a locket that is hung around the neck is the common European custom for protecting oneself against deadly gazes.

A light worker such as myself might advise you to protect yourself in the following contemporary ways:

Always maintain the belief that nobody has the power to hurt you with a look. This in itself is a very powerful thought form.

Before you go out, imagine that your third eye is actually covered by something that looks like a small pocket mirror. If you are a psychic or a healer then simply close your third eye and don't open it unless you want to look.

If you are feeling haunted or upset as the result of a "look", press your thumb hard into the center of your forehead and imagine your third eye quickly flipping. Flick the energy away with your thumb and snap your fingers.

Always remember that what you resist often persists. The phrase "Oh, so what!" is one of the most powerful chemicals in the universe that you can use to dissolve negative energy.

Samantha Steven's articles have been published in many high-standing newspapers and she has published several books. If you wish to buy Samantha's books about metaphysics click here http://www.insomniacpress.com/author.php?id=110 You can meet Samantha Stevens at http://www.psychicrealm.com where she works as a professional psychic.

Resilience in the Individual and in the Family System

Webster's Dictionary (1974) defines resilience as "an ability to recover from or adjust easily to change or misfortune" (p. 596). Although this definition is widely accepted, resilience may be conceptualized as being more than merely bouncing back from setbacks. Resilience may also be the ability to bounce forward in the face of an uncertain future (Walsh, 2004). Resilience has been conceptualized as the forging of strengths through adversity (Wolin & Wolin, 1993). Like the willow tree, people thrive if they have a strong, healthy root system. With branches flexible enough to bend with the storm and firm enough to weather strong winds without breaking, the willow tree can continue to grow despite being twisted into differing shapes. The willow tree may be a metaphor for the resilient individual and resilient family system. Resiliency is critical to mental health and healthy aging.

Bonanno (2004) defined adult resilience as a person's capacity to resist maladaptation in the face of risky experiences. Bonanno's individually-based definition of adult resilience assumes that resilience resides in the person, an observation supported by the list of individual attributes that covary with resilient outcomes in Bonanno's work (hardiness, self-enhancement, repressive coping, and positive emotion.). Importantly, this definition of resilience does not identify the positive outcomes that can result from adversity in the hardy individual. Despite Bonanno's (2004) narrow definition, his analysis includes an interesting finding that loss and brief traumatic experiences, despite being aversive and difficult to accept, are normatively not sufficient to overwhelm the adaptive resources of ordinary adults. Bonanno's research calls into question the research of Sameroff, Bartko, Baldwin, Baldwin, and Seifer (1998), which demonstrated in longitudinal analyses that as levels of adversity rise, and as resources fall, resilience becomes less tenable.

Rutter (1985) observed that strong self-esteem and self-efficacy make successful coping more likely, whereas a sense of helplessness increases the likelihood that one crisis will lead to another. In a similar vein, Kobasa's (1985) research findings supported his hypothesis that people with resilience possess three general traits: (1.) the belief that they can influence or control events in their lives; (2.) an ability to feel deeply committed and involved in activities in their lives; and (3.) a tendency to embrace change as an opportunity to grow and develop more fully. Thus, resilient children are more likely to have an inner locus of control (Seligman, 1990), or an optimistic belief that they can positively impact their fate.

Dugan and Coles (1989) suggest that individuals prevail over adversity more effectively if they have moral and spiritual resources. In a phenomenological study of nine subjects who had experienced such traumas as life in a concentration camp, disability, breast cancer, massive head injury, a life of violence and abuse, and loss of a child, Rose (1997) identified similar themes of resilience which emerged from individual interviews: the role of supportive others, empathy, self-care, faith, action orientation, moving on, positive outlook, and persistence. Rose identifies the foundational structure of resilience as faith, self-respect, striving, supportive others, coping, empathy, self-reliance, and moving on.

Closer scrutiny of children and families that are at risk reveals many exceptions to the "damage model" of development, which considers stress or disadvantage as predictive of dysfunction. For example, Werner and Smith (1992) conducted an extensive longitudinal study of almost a half a century of children from Kuai. The researchers found that in spite of early medical distress, poverty, school difficulties, teen pregnancy, or arrest, children were able to learn and persevere through difficulty, given adequate supports. In their analysis of how these impoverished children matured successfully, Vaillant (2002) notes that Werner and Smith emphasized, ". . . the importance of being a 'cuddly' child and of being a child who elicits predominantly positive responses from the environment and who manifests great skill at recruiting substitute parents" (p. 285). Werner and Smith point out that key turning points for most of these troubled individuals were meeting a caring friend and marrying an accepting spouse. It is also salient that Werner and Smith found that more girls than boys overcame adversity at all age levels. Walsh (2004) speculates that this finding reflects the notion that ". . . girls are raised to be both more easygoing and more relationally-oriented, whereas boys are taught to be tough and self-reliant through life. . . [and] often because of troubled family lives, competencies were built when early responsibilities were assumed for household tasks and care of younger siblings" (pp. 13-14). Werner and Smith's study is especially important in reminding clinicians that early life experiences do not necessarily guarantee significant problems in later life. Walsh (2004) suggests that their most significant finding is that resilience can be developed at any point over the course of the life cycle. Walsh extrapolates from Werner and Smith's research that ". . . unexpected events and new relationships can disrupt a negative chain and catalyze new growth" (p. 14). Favorable interactions with individuals, families and their environments have a systemic effect of moving resilience in upward spirals, and a downward spiral can be reversed at any time in life (Walsh, 2004).

Felsman and Vaillant (1987) followed the lives of 75 males living in impoverished, socially disadvantaged families. People who suffered from substance abuse, mental illness, crime and violence parented these men. Several of these men, although scarred by their childhoods, lived brave lives and became high functioning adults. Felsman and Vaillant concluded, "The events that go wrong in our lives do not forever damn us" (1987, p. 298).

Another study refuting the accuracy of the "damage model" is Kaufman and Zigler's (1987) finding that most survivors of childhood abuse do not go on to abuse their own children. Similarly, other research found that children of mentally ill parents or dysfunctional families have been able to prevail over early experiences of abuse or neglect to lead productive lives (Anthony, 1987; Cohler, 1987; Garmezy, 1987).

Werner (1995) identified clusters of protective factors that have emerged as recurrent themes in the lives of children who overcame great odds. The protective factors that were characteristic of the individual were myriad. Resilient youngsters are engaging to other people. Additionally, they excel in problem-solving skills and display effective communication skills. Problem solving skills included the ability to recruit substitute caregivers. Moreover, they have a talent or hobby valued by their elders or peers. Finally, they have faith that their own actions can make a positive difference in their lives.
From a developmental perspective, Werner (1995) emphasizes that having affectional ties that encourage trust, autonomy, and initiative enhances resilience. Members of the extended family or support systems in the community frequently provide these ties. These support systems reinforce and reward the competencies of resilient children and provide them with positive role models. Such supports may include caring neighbors, clergy, teachers, and peers.

In Vaillant's (2002) Study of Adult Development at Harvard University, arguably the longest longitudinal study on aging in the world, it is suggested that resiliency researchers who focus on risk factors and pathology are mistaken in believing that misfortune condemns disadvantaged children to bleak futures. Instead, Vaillant calls upon clinicians to count up the positive and the protective factors when conducting assessments. Vaillant cites Sir Michael Rutter (1985), who reminds clinicians, "The notion that adverse experiences lead to lasting damage to personality 'structure' has very little empirical support" (p. 598).

Vaillant (2002) identifies four protective factors in the individual's potential to age well. A future orientation, a capacity for gratitude and forgiveness, a capacity to love and to hold the other empathically, and the desire do things with people instead of to people are personal qualities identified as resiliency factors. He posits that ". . . marriage is not only important to healthy aging, it is often the cornerstone of adult resilience" (p. 291).

Furthermore, Vaillant (2002) describes resilience as being a combination of nature and nurture. Both genes and environment play crucial roles. He explains, "On one hand, our ability to feel safe enough to deploy adaptive defenses like humor and altruism is facilitated by our being among loving friends. On the other hand, our ability to appear so attractive to others that they will love us is very much dependent upon the genetic capacity that made some of us 'easy' attractive babies" (p. 285).

An essential part of resilience is ". . . the ability to find the loving and health-giving individuals within one's social matrix wherever they may be" (Vaillant, 2002, p. 286). Thus, like Werner and Smith (1992), Vaillant's research identified extended families and friendship networks as key foundations to resilience in the individual and the family system.

American culture glorifies the "rugged individual." John Wayne, the personification of masculinity and strength, has been adored by generations of Americans as a hero. However, there is an inherent danger in the myth of rugged individualism, which implies that vulnerability and emotional interdependence are weak and dysfunctional (Walsh, 2004). As Felsman and Vaillant (1987) note, "The term 'invulnerability' is antithetical to the human condition. . . In bearing witness to the resilient behavior of high-risk children everywhere, a truer effort would be to understand, in form and by degree, the shared human qualities at work" (p. 304). Avoidance of personal suffering and the glorification of stoicism are hallmarks of American culture. Such cultural attitudes are typified by the call to "move on," to "cheer up," to get over catastrophic events, to put national and global tragedies behind us, or to rebound (Walsh, 2004). Higgins (1994) notes that struggling well involves experiencing both suffering and courage, effectively processing and working through challenges from intrapersonal and interpersonal perspectives. In Higgin's study of resilient adults, it became clear that they became stronger because they were severely tested, endured suffering, and developed new strengths as a result of their trials. These adults experienced their lives more deeply and passionately. Walsh (2004) observes that over fifty per cent of the resilient individuals studied by Higgins were therapists. Egeland, B. R., Carlson, E. and Sroufe (1993) offer an alternative approach to thinking about resilience as ". . . a family of processes that scaffold successful adaptation in the context of adversity" (p. 517).

Important research conducted by Wolin and Wolin (1993) points toward the notion that although some children are born with innate resiliencies, resiliency can be modeled, taught, and increased. They emphasize that persons tend to seek healing from pain instead of holding on to bitterness. The researchers note that the resilient person draws lessons from experience instead of repeating mistakes, and that they maintain openness and spontaneity in their relationships rather than becoming rigid or bitter in interaction. Wolin and Wolin also found that resiliency in individuals is strongly correlated with humor and creativity, as well as mental and physical health. The Wolins identify seven traits of adults who survived a troubled childhood: insight (awareness of dysfunction), independence (distancing self from troubles), relationships (supportive connections with others), initiative (self/other-help actions), creativity (self-expression, transformation), humor (reframing in a less threatening way), and morality (justice and compassion rather than revenge). Traits are viewed as dynamic processes by which resilient individuals adapt to and grow through challenge, rather than static properties that automatically protect the invulnerable. These observations are correlated with empirical studies of resilient children (Baldwin, Baldwin, & Cole, 1990; Bernard, 1991; Garbarino, 1992; Masten, Best, & Garmezy, 1990; Werner & Smith, 1992) and adults (Klohnen, Vandewater, and Young, 1996, Vaillant, 2002).

Walsh (2004) asserts, "In the field of mental health, most clinical theory, training, practice, and research have been overwhelmingly deficit-focused, implicating the family in the cause or maintenance of nearly all problems in individual functioning. Under early psychoanalytic assumptions of destructive maternal bonds, the family came to be seen as a noxious influence. Even the early family systems formulations focused on dysfunctional family processes well in the mid-1980's" (p. 15).

The popularity of the Adult Children of Alcoholics Movement surged in the late twentieth century and encouraged people to blame their families for their problems. This movement tempted the individual to make excuses for his behavior in terms of his dysfunctional family history instead of looking for family strengths that might help him/her overcome challenge and become stronger. Adult Children of Alcoholics ". . . spend much of their time other-focused, and it is easy for them to become preoccupied with another group member's problem, take responsibility for it, and avoid the painful job of self-examination and taking responsibility for their own behavior" (Lawson & Lawson, 1998, p. 263).

In contrast to this damage model, the Wolins offered an alternative way to view challenging family backgrounds: a Challenge Model to build resilience, stating that ". . . the capacity for self-repair in adult children of alcoholics taught [them] that strength can emerge from adversity" (p. 15). The Wolins reflect a paradigm shift in recent years, as family systems therapists have started to focus upon a competence-based, strength-oriented approach (Barnard, 1994; Walsh, 1993, 1995a). A family resilience approach builds on recent research, empowering therapists to move away from deficit and focus upon ways that families can be challenged to grow stronger from adversity (Walsh, 2004). From the perspective of the Challenge Model, stressors can become potential springboards for increased competence, as long as the level of stress is not too high (Wolin & Wolin, 1993). Walsh notes, "The Chinese symbol for the word 'crisis' is a composite of two pictographs: the symbols for 'danger' and 'opportunity'" (p. 7). Wolin and Wolin (1993) observe that we may not wish for adversity, but the paradox of resilience is that our worst times can also become our best.

It is clear that the extensive research on resilient individuals largely points toward the social nature of resilience. However, most resiliency theory has approached the systemic context of resilience tangentially, in terms of the influence of a single, important person, such as a parent or caregiver (Bowlby, 1988). Looking at resilient family functioning through a systemic lens calls upon the clinician to view individual resilience as being embedded in family process and mutual influence (Walsh, 2004). Walsh suggests that if ". . . researchers and clinicians adopt a broader perspective beyond a dyadic bond and early relationships, [they] become aware that resilience is woven in a web of relationships and experiences over the course of the life cycle and across the generations" (p. 12).

It has only been in the last twenty five years or so that families that cope well under stress have been the subject of research (Stinnet & DeFrain, 1985; Stinnett, Knorr, DeFrain, & Rowe, 1981). A growing body of knowledge has pointed toward the multidimensional nature of family processes that distinguish adaptive family systems from maladaptive family systems (Walsh, 2004). Walsh (2004) defines "family resilience" as ". . . the coping and adaptational processes in the family as a functional unit," [and adds that]. . . a systems perspective enables us to understand how family processes mediate stress and enable families to surmount crisis and weather prolonged hardship" (p. 14). Strong families create a climate of optimism, resourcefulness, and nurturance which mirrors the traits of resilient individuals (Walsh, 2004). In fact, research on family adaptation and on family strengths suggests the following traits of resilient families: commitment, cohesion, adaptability, communication, spirituality, effective resource management, and coherence (Abbott, et al., 1990; Antonovsky, 1987; Beavers & Hampson, 1990; Moos & Moos, 1976; Olson, Russell, & Sprenkle, 1989; Reiss, 1981; Stinnett, et al., 1982). Walsh observes, ". . . a family resilience lens fundamentally alters our perspective by enabling us to recognize, affirm, and build upon family resources" (Walsh, 2004, p. viii). Rutter's (1987) research added further confirmation that resilience is fostered in family interactions through a chain of indirect influences that inoculate family members against long-term damage from stressful events. It is essential to consider family resilience as a major variable in a family's ability to cope and adapt in the face of stress (McCubbin, McCubbin, McCubbin, & Futrell, 1995).

Bennett, Wolin, and Reiss (1988) concluded from their research that children who grew up in alcoholic families that deliberately planned and executed family rituals, valued relationships, and preferred roles were less likely to exhibit behavior or emotional problems. They argue that families with serious problems, such as parental alcoholism, which can still impose control over those parts of family life that are central to the family's identity, communicate important messages to their children regarding their ability to take control of present and future life events. These messages can determine the extent to which the children are protected from developing future problems, including alcoholism in adolescence and adulthood.

Patterson (1983) asserts that it is only to the extent that stressors interrupt important family processes that children are impacted. However, from a systemic perspective, it is not only the child who is vulnerable or resilient; most salient is how the family system influences eventual adjustment (Walsh, 2004). Even those family members who are not directly touched by a crisis are profoundly affected by the family response, with reverberations for all other relationships (Bowen, 1978). Following from these ideas, it is clear that "Slings and arrows of misfortune strike us all, in varying ways and times over each family's life course. What distinguishes healthy families is not the absence of problems, but rather their coping and problem-solving abilities" (Walsh, 2004, p. 15).
From an ecological perspective, Rutter (1987) suggests that it is not enough to take into account the sphere of the family as influencing risk and resilience in the individual and family life cycles. He emphasizes that it is also incumbent upon therapists to assess the interplay between families and the political, social, economic, and social climates in which people either thrive or perish. Rutter's findings suggest that it is insufficient to focus exclusively on bolstering at-risk individuals and families, but there must also be public policy efforts to change the odds against them.
In the twenty first century, it is apparent that the configuration of the family is shifting. Diverse forms of family systems do not inherently damage children (Walsh, 2004). Walsh emphasizes, "It is not family form, but rather family processes, that matter most for healthy functioning and resilience" (p. 16).

One family process that governs how a family responds to a new situation is the way in which shared beliefs shape and reinforce communication patterns (Reiss, 1981). Hadley and his colleagues (1974) found that a disruptive transition or crisis could potentiate a major shift in the family belief system, with both immediate and long-term effects on reorganization and adaptation. Additionally, Carter and McGoldrick (1999) suggest that how a family perceives a stressful situation intersects with legacies of previous crises in the multigenerational system to influence the meaning the family makes of the adversity and its response to it.

Walsh (2004) asserts, "A cluster of two or more concurrent stresses complicates adaptation as family members struggle with competing demands, and emotions can easily spill over into conflict. . . . Over time, a pileup of stressors, losses, and dislocations can overwhelm a family's coping efforts, contributing to family strife, substance abuse, and emotional or behavioral symptoms of distress (often expressed by children in the family)" (p. 21). Figley (1989) noted that catastrophic events that occur suddenly and without warning can be particularly traumatic. Bowen (1978) suggested that shock wave effects of a trauma might reverberate through the system and extend forward into multiple generations. Thus, Walsh (2004) calls upon therapists to take a systemic approach to intervention in the face of crisis, with interventions that ". . . strengthen key interactional processes that foster healing, recovery, and resilience, enabling the family and its members to integrate the experience and move on with life" (p. 22).

To understand resilience, one must also look through a developmental lens (Carter & McGoldrick, 1999). Neugarten (1976) found that stressful life events are more apt to cause maladaptive functioning when they are unexpected. Also, multiple stressors create cumulative effects, and chronic severe conditions are more likely to affect functioning adversely. However, Cohler (1987) and Vaillant's (1995) research found that the role of early life experience in determining adult capacity to overcome adversity is less important than was previously believed. Thus, discontinuity and long-term perspectives on the individual and family life cycle point toward the idea that people are constantly "becoming" and have life courses that are flexible and multidetermined (Falicov, 1988). Furthermore, Walsh (2004) suggests that ". . . an adaptation that serves well at one point in development may later not be useful in meeting other challenges" (p. 13). Research has pointed toward a greater risk in vulnerability for boys in childhood and for girls in adolescence (Elder, Caspi, & Nguyen, 1985; Werner & Smith, 1982). All these variables highlight the dynamic nature of resilience over time.

In the field of family therapy, it is incumbent upon researchers and practitioners to recognize that successful treatment depends as much on the resources of the family as on the resources of the individual or the skills of the clinician (Karpel, 1986; Minuchin, 1992). Family processes can influence the aftermath of many traumatic events, reverberating into the course of the lives of people in future generations. Individual resilience must be understood and nurtured in the context of the family and vice-versa. Both immediate crisis and chronic stressors affect the entire family and all its members, posing threats not only to the individual, but also for relational conflict and family breakdown in current and future generations. Family processes may mediate the impact of crisis on all members and their relationships. Protective processes build resilience by promoting recovery and buffering stress. Indeed, healthy family processes influence the effects of present and future crises far into the future (Bowen, 1978; Kerr & Bowen, 1988). Since all families and their members have the potential to become more resilient, family therapists should work to maximize that potential by strengthening key processes within the individual and within the system.

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Dr. Barbara Cunningham, MFT

A Review of The Family Crucible

The Family Crucible, by Napier and Whitaker (1978), reads like a novel while at the same time laying down some of the fundamental concepts of family systems therapy. It is a case study of one family's experience in family therapy. While the therapy shifts from daughter to son and then to parent interaction to daughters and son, it is finally the couple's marriage that must be treated if issues are to be resolved. Even the grandparents are brought into therapy to get at the family of origin issues.

The book opens with a quote from James Agee and Walker Evans: "The family must take care of itself; it has no mother or father; there is no shelter, nor resource, nor any love, interest, sustaining strength or comfort, so near, nor can anything happy or sorrowful that comes to anyone in this family possibly mean to those outside it what it means to those within it; but it is, as I have told, inconceivably lonely, drawn upon itself as tramps are drawn round a fire in the cruelest weather; and thus and in such loneliness it exists among other families, each of which is no less lonely, nor any less without help or comfort, and is likewise drawn in upon itself."

Through the telling of the Brice family's story, Napier and Whitaker illustrate underlying dynamics such as structural imbalances in the system and how child focus is a typical method used by unhappy couples to avoid dealing with their own marital and family of origin issues. Fusion, triangles, individual and family life cycle stages, family-of-origin themes, polarization, reciprocity, blaming, and the hierarchy and characteristics of living systems are among the concepts that are explained and illustrated through this family's therapy experience. David and Carolyn, an unhappily married couple, are the parents of Claudia (the IP), Laura, and Don. The book is well written and hard to put down once you start reading it.

Whitaker has been criticized in the field, because many people believe that he does not really have a theory. It is believed that it is only his charismatic personality that drives his treatment. I disagree. I believe that one has only to read his chapter in The Handbook of Family Therapy (1981) and see these concepts illustrated in The Family Crucible to realize the depth and breadth of his theory.

In the service of reviewing the book, it is useful to consider Whitaker's background and key theoretical concepts. He began as an OB/GYN and had no formal psychiatric training. He became involved in treating schizophrenics after World War II. Whitaker was interested in understanding disturbed relationships in a familial context and in determining whether serious symptoms such as those in psychotics might be reinforced by dysfunctional family patterns and beliefs.

From 1946 to 1955, Whitaker (1981) became involved in treating schizophrenia with a type of aggressive play therapy. In fact, Whitaker's most formative training was in a child guidance clinic where he learned play therapy (Whitaker, 1981). Whitaker used some outrageous methods, including learning to talk "crazy," arm wrestling, use of a baby bottle, and rocking, all of which were rooted in his training experience.

At the same time that he developed these techniques, he developed a kind of pyknolepsy, wherein he would fall asleep in the middle of a session. He would dream about his relationship with the patient being treated, and then make his associations to the dream a part of the therapy session (Whitaker, 1981). In justifying his unique techniques, Whitaker emphasized that "Each technique is a process whereby the therapist is developing himself and using the patient as an intermediary, that is the therapist is interacting in a primary process model" (p. 188).

In 1946, Whitaker (1981) moved to Emory, where he became chair of the Department of Psychiatry. It was here that he developed dual co-therapy with Dr. Thomas Malone. In 1964, Whitaker worked with David Keith to develop a postgraduate specialty in MFT at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. The development of symbolic-experiential methodology required students to ". . . take everything said by the patient as symbolically important as well as realistically factual" (Whitaker, 1981, p. 189).

Whitaker (1981) defined health as ". . . a process of perpetual becoming" (p. 190). He emphasized that what is most important in a healthy family is ". . . the sense of an integrated whole. . . The healthy family is not a fragmented group nor a congealed group. . . The healthy family will utilize constructive input and handle negative feedback with power and comfort. The group is also therapist to the individuals" (p. 190). Whitaker also defines the healthy family as ". . . a three to four generational whole that is longitudinally integrated. . . maintaining a separation of the generations. Mother and father are not children and the children are not parents" (p. 190). Whitaker also looked at the degree of volitional access parents and children have to outside support and interests. The families of origin in healthy families are on friendly terms.

Importantly, Whitaker looked to spontaneity as a marker of healthy communication in families. The healthy family allows each member to admit to problems and to identify competencies. Thus, it is emphasized that healthy families allow great freedom for the individual to be himself. Whitaker (1981) states that ". . . normal families do no reify stress" (p. 190).

Whitaker (1981) emphasized that a basic characteristic of all healthy families is the availability of an "as if" structure, which permits different family members to take on different roles at different times. Roles result from interaction instead of being rigidly defined. They are defined by various conditions, including the past, present, future, culture, and demands of the family at a given time. On the other hand, Whitaker defined the dysfunctional family as ". . . characterized by a very limited sense of the whole" (p. 194). Lack of flexibility at times of change, covert communication, intolerance of conflict, lack of spontaneity, lack of empathy, blaming and scapegoating, a lack of playfulness, and little sense of humor are all markers of unhealthy families from Whitaker's perspective.

Whitaker placed heavy emphasis on the technique of co-therapy. In The Family Crucible, for example, the reader constantly witnesses Whitaker and Napier turn up the power. Whitaker and Napier's process techniques illustrated in the book are designed to disorganize rigid patterns of behavior directly in session. The exposure of covert behaviors is considered to be the family's misguided effort to stay in tact by submerging real feelings. There is a decisive here-and-now quality to symbolic-experiential interventions used in The Family Crucible, with a focus upon creating and then addressing en vivo emotional dynamics in therapy session.

Napier and Whitaker insisted that the entire Brice family be present in therapy. Indeed, Whitaker's symbolic-experiential treatment model considered it crucial to begin the treatment process with the entire family (Napier and Whitaker, 1978). Whitaker (1981) has emphasized that "Our demand to have the whole family in is the beginning of our 'battle for structure.' It begins with the first phone call" (p. 204). He asserts that it is ". . . difficult to do process-focused family therapy without the children" and the ". . . experiential quality of family therapy requires the children's presence" (p. 205). In the book, Napier and Whitaker (1978) frequently attempt change through playing and teasing, especially with Laura, Don, and Claudia. Members from David and Carolyn's families of origin are invited to session. Whitaker (1981) states that in arranging for four generations to come to interviews as consultants that he is ". . . helping to evolve a large system anxiety" (p. 204). Experience is privileged over cognitive engagement throughout the treatment with the Brice family, as it is conceptualized that experience trumps cognitive growth in this theory.

Napier and Whitaker (1978) describe their co-therapy as symbolic of a professional marriage. Early treatment of the Brice family involved the co-therapists making decisions. Symbolically, they viewed the family as a baby taking its first steps. As such, the family required structure, so it follows that the therapists made unilateral decisions. Once Napier and Whitaker had won the battle for control, the therapists, like parents raising children, soften considerably. In the middle phase of the Brice family's treatment, decisions about treatment were made more collaboratively. Again, the model for this process is increasing differentiation of the family. As therapy proceeded, the therapists took increasingly smaller roles, watching like proud parents as the Brice family became more integrated into changing themselves independent of the therapists. Whitaker (1981) clarifies that the therapy process ". . . begins with infancy and goes to late adolescence, where the initiative is with the kids, who then bear responsibility for their own living" (p. 107).

Throughout the book, it is implicitly and explicitly emphasized that the self-development of the therapists is the most important variable in the success of therapy. Napier and Whitaker (1978) acted as coaches or surrogate grandparents to the Brice family as therapy progressed. They were active and considered themselves to be the forces for change. Rather than a blank screen, they acted as allies of the family system. Especially in the beginning, Napier and Whitaker were directive. They used silence, confrontation and other anxiety-building techniques to unbalance the system. They acted as catalysts, who picked up on the unspoken and discovered the undercurrents represented by the family's symbolic communication patterns. The co-therapists privileged their subjective impressions.

More than anything else, Napier and Whitaker (1978) had the courage to be themselves. They knew how to meet the absurdities of life and how to bring out people's primary impulses. They believed strongly in the healing power of the human being, and, even more, of the family. They insisted that the family be in contact with its own craziness, play, and honor the spontaneous through their own modeling and directing.

The reader could observe how this symbolic-experiential therapy team moved through several stages. In the early part of treatment, the co-therapists battle for structure and they are all-powerful. In the mid-phase, the parental team functioned as stress activators, growth expanders, and creativity stimulators. Late in treatment, the co-therapists sat back and watched, respecting the independent functioning of the family. Whitaker (1981) holds that the "The sequence of joining and distancing is important. It is a lot like being with children. A father can get furious with his kids one minute, then be loving the next. We take the same stance with families" (p. 205). Thus, the role of the co-therapists was dynamic over the course of treatment with the Brice family.

Whether as a training therapist or a lay reader, it is inspirational to study the therapy offered by Napier and Whitaker (1978) in The Family Crucible. Self-disclosure, creative play, teaching stories, spontaneous interpersonal messages, the use of metaphor, and the sharing of parts of the therapists' lives that reflect a working through in their own living are used generously. Process techniques intended to activate confusion around Claudia, the identified patient, unbalance the system, and open up authentic dialogue between marital partners and between the generations of extended families are used. It is emphasized, however, that it is not technique, but personal involvement that enabled Whitaker and Napier (1978) to do their best. It is continually illustrated how symbolic (emotional) experiences are fundamentally formative in the treatment of families, illustrated poignantly with the Brice family. Therefore, such experience should be created in session. To expose the covert world beneath the surface world is the most curative factor for the Brice family, is it is for all families. By getting inside the Brice family's unique language and symbolic system, the therapists were able to move the family's awareness from the content level to the symbolic level.

In THE FAMILY CRUCIBLE, Napier (1978) describes the curative process of Whitaker's family therapy from the perspective of the co-therapist. The courage to embrace life's absurdities involves the courage to be oneself, to the point of even sharing your free associations and thoughts with families. Daring to participate in the lives of the families, or even inviting them to share in your own life in order to get them in contact with submerged associations, helps families to get to the primary process level. In fact, the book underlines that the force of the therapist is central to treatment, so that the family's encounter with the therapists is the primary curative agent. The goal of psychotherapy with the Brice family, as with all families, is to provide therapeutic experiences, and questions should be fired off in ways to unbalance the family. When Whitaker asks Carolyn, "When did you divorce your husband and marry the children?" he acts as an agent of change. He does not care whether the client likes him. And it is here that one realizes that the success of the psychotherapy depends on the emotional maturity of the therapist. The person of the therapist is at the heart of what good psychotherapy is all about. Since Whitaker states that therapy for the therapist is crucial, experiential training is essential for the therapist who would provide his/her clients with experiential treatment. In conclusion, this highly readable, inspirational, and useful book deserves a central place on every therapist's bookshelf.

References
Whitaker, C. A. (1981). Symbolic-experiential family therapy. In A. S. Gurman & D. P.
Knistern (Eds.), Handbook of family therapy (pp. 187-225). New York: Brunner/Mazel.
Napier, A. Y., & Whitaker, C. (1978). The family crucible: The intense experience of
therapy. New York: HarperCollins.

Dr. Barbara Cunningham, MFT

i've got a dilemma

Ok - blogger is really slow. I work on a few Blogger blogs, and all are ok in speed save for this urban onramps blog. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but my hunch is that it's because this blog is so, well, big. I've not only had it for three years, but I've made thousands of posts (it quit counting in the fall at 2,700 posts). So if it's slow because of size, and it will continue to be slow, maybe I should:

(a) switch over to a new Blogger blog, or
(b) take the opportunity to jump to TypePad

Your thoughts, experiences with other blog engines are appreciated.

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