Experiential Family Therapy: An Innovative Approach to the Resolution of Family Conflict in Genetic Counseling

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Experiential family therapy is an intuitive approach that utilizes active, multisensory techniques. These techniques, such as role plays and drawings, increase the family's expression of affect and uncover new information. Increased affect and uncovered information stimulate change and growth in the family system. Experiential techniques are especially useful when more traditional, verbal-based communication is not effective. In this article, I will present a pediatric case in which the patient, a 7-year-old boy diagnosed with autism, was referred to the genetics clinic to rule out the presence of an associated genetic disorder. I will then describe a hypothetical second counseling session with the same family and suggest how three experiential family therapy techniques: family drawing, “empty chair” technique, and continuums might be used in the session to help resolve a marital conflict between the patient's parents.

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