John T. Edwards, PhD Advice to Self

Shared by Martha Decker on 01/14/2014

"These are brief, random bits of advice to myself which help guide my actions with families. I collected them from my experiences with families and from my observations of trainee therapists from behind the one-way mirror.

*Discussed at LPCNC Conference keynote address on 9/25/09.
*1.  Safety first.
 2.  With every family, I am a student.
 3.  Help families create alternatives.
 4.  Use what's happening in the room for therapeutic purposes.
 5.  Where possible, make it happen in the room, not in the future.
 6.  Where necessary, use leverage (social, emotional, legal).
 7.  The process should be presented as one in which everyone gains.
*8.  Keep parents in charge of their children.
 9.  Search for strengths.
10. Engineer successes.
11. Stay relevant.
12. Make a clear statement and pause.
*13. Stick with the presenting problem, at least initially.
*14. Join with the adults to help a child identified patient.
15. Think systemically.
*16. Think in terms of at least three people.
17. When the system gets stuck, add or subtract (people).
18. Go through their content to work with their process to change the family structure.
19. Think concretely and in practical terms; also think conceptually.
20. Be creative.
21. Go with the energy flow (motivation) of the family.
22. Expect success.
23. Think in terms of three generations.
24. Be clear on therapeutic goals; what are you trying to do?
25. Think in terms of multiple causes of behavior.
26. Work with colleagues.
*27.Discuss with colleagues my mistakes with families.
28. Think in terms of what's needed; also think of what's possible.
29. For a reluctant family or member, find access key (their motivation).
30. I must understand them before they will understand me.
31. Use my own feelings as information about the family.
*32. When the dynamics are too obvious, don't take steps that are too large.
33. Believe what you see.
*34. Join carefully with the family "doorkeeper" (the one who controls access to the family).
35. Don't do what you can get a family member to do.
36. Don't give up unless it would be in the best interest of the family.
*37. If you can't improve the family, improve yourself. 

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