FAQ

Individual Psychotherapy FAQ
What is psychotherapy?
A psychologist can help you work through such problems. Through psychotherapy, psychologists help people of all ages live happier, healthier and more productive lives.

In psychotherapy, psychologists apply scientifically validated procedures to help people develop healthier, more effective habits. There are several approaches to psychotherapy — including cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, and other kinds of talk therapy — that help individuals work through their problems.

Psychotherapy is a collaborative treatment based on the relationship between an individual and a psychologist. Grounded in dialogue, it provides a supportive environment that allows you to talk openly with someone who’s objective, neutral and nonjudgmental. You and your psychologist will work together to identify and change the thought and behavior patterns that are keeping you from feeling your best.

By the time you’re done, you will not only have solved the problem that brought you in, but you will have learned new skills so you can better cope with whatever challenges arise in the future.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

When should you consider psychotherapy?
Because of the many misconceptions about psychotherapy, you may be reluctant to try it out. Even if you know the realities instead of the myths, you may feel nervous about trying it yourself.

Overcoming that nervousness is worth it. That’s because any time your quality of life isn’t what you want it to be, psychotherapy can help.

Some people seek psychotherapy because they have felt depressed, anxious or angry for a long time. Others may want help for a chronic illness that is interfering with their emotional or physical well-being. Still others may have short-term problems they need help navigating. They may be going through a divorce, facing an empty nest, feeling overwhelmed by a new job or grieving a family member’s death, for example.

Signs that you could benefit from therapy include:

  • You feel an overwhelming, prolonged sense of helplessness and sadness.
  • Your problems don’t seem to get better despite your efforts and help from family and friends.
  • You find it difficult to concentrate on work assignments or to carry out other everyday activities.
  • You worry excessively, expect the worst or are constantly on edge.
  • Your actions, such as drinking too much alcohol, using drugs or being aggressive, are harming you or others.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

What are the different kinds of psychotherapy?
There are many different approaches to psychotherapy. Psychologists generally draw on one or more of these. Each theoretical perspective acts as a roadmap to help the psychologist understand their clients and their problems and develop solutions.

The kind of treatment you receive will depend on a variety of factors: current psychological research, your psychologist’s theoretical orientation and what works best for your situation.

Your psychologist’s theoretical perspective will affect what goes on in his or her office. Psychologists who use cognitive-behavioral therapy, for example, have a practical approach to treatment. Your psychologist might ask you to tackle certain tasks designed to help you develop more effective coping skills. This approach often involves homework assignments. Your psychologist might ask you to gather more information, such as logging your reactions to a particular situation as they occur. Or your psychologist might want you to practice new skills between sessions, such as asking someone with an elevator phobia to practice pushing elevator buttons. You might also have reading assignments so you can learn more about a particular topic.

In contrast, psychoanalytic and humanistic approaches typically focus more on talking than doing. You might spend your sessions discussing your early experiences to help you and your psychologist better understand the root causes of your current problems.

Your psychologist may combine elements from several styles of psychotherapy. In fact, most therapists don’t tie themselves to any one approach. Instead, they blend elements from different approaches and tailor their treatment according to each client’s needs.

The main thing to know is whether your psychologist has expertise in the area you need help with and whether your psychologist feels he or she can help you.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

Why choose a psychologist for psychotherapy?
Psychologists who specialize in psychotherapy and other forms of psychological treatment are highly trained professionals with expertise in mental health assessment, diagnosis and treatment, and behavior change.

After graduating from a four-year undergraduate college or university, psychologists spend an average of seven years in graduate education and training to earn a doctoral degree. That degree may be a PhD, PsyD, or EdD.

As part of their professional training, psychologists must complete a supervised clinical internship in a hospital or organized health setting. In most states, they must also have an additional year of post-doctoral supervised experience before they can practice independently in any health care arena. It is this combination of doctoral-level training and clinical internship that distinguishes psychologists from many other mental health care providers.

Psychologists pass a national examination and must be licensed by the state or jurisdiction in which they practice. Licensure laws are intended to protect the public by limiting licensure to those who are qualified to practice psychology as defined by state law. Most states also require psychologists to stay up-to-date by earning several hours of continuing education credits annually.

In addition, APA members adhere to a strict code of professional ethics.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

How do I find a psychologist?
If you plan to use your insurance or employee assistance program to pay for psychotherapy, you may need to select a psychologist who is part of your insurance panel or employee assistance program. But if you’re free to choose, there are many ways to find a psychologist:

  • Ask trusted family members and friends.
  • Ask your primary care physician, obstetrician/gynecologist, pediatrician or another health professional. If you’re involved in a divorce or other legal matters, your attorney may also be able to provide referrals.
  • Search online for psychologists’ websites.
  • Contact your area community mental health center.
  • Consult a local university or college department of psychology.
  • Call your local or state psychological association, which may have a list of practicing psychologists organized by geographic area or specialty.

Or use a trusted online directory, such as APA’s Psychologist Locator Service. This service makes it easy for you to find practicing psychologists in your area.

Psychologists may work in their own private practice or with a group of other psychologists or health care professionals. Practicing psychologists also work in schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, health systems and health management organizations, veterans’ medical centers, community health and mental health clinics, businesses and industry, and rehabilitation and long-term care centers.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

How should I select a psychologist?

Psychologists and clients work together, so the right match is important. Good “chemistry” with your psychologist is critical, so don’t be afraid to interview potential candidates about their training, clinical expertise and experience treating problems like yours. Whether you interview a psychologist by phone, during a special 15-minute consultation or at your first session, look for someone who makes you feel comfortable and inspires confidence.

But it’s also important to check more practical matters, too. When you’re ready to select a psychologist, think about the following points:

  • Do you want to do psychotherapy by yourself, with your partner or spouse, or with your children?
  • What are your main goals for psychotherapy?
  • Will you use your health insurance or employee assistance program to pay for psychotherapy?
  • If you’ll be paying out of pocket, how much can you afford?
  • How far are you willing to drive?
  • What days and times would be convenient?

You’ll need to gather some information from the psychologists whose names you have gathered. The best way to make initial contact with a psychologist is by phone. While you may be tempted to use email, it’s less secure than the telephone when it comes to confidentiality. A psychologist will probably call you back anyway. And it’s faster for everyone to talk rather than have to write everything down.

Psychologists are often with clients and don’t always answer their phones right away. Just leave a message with your name, phone number and brief description of your situation.

Once you connect, some questions you can ask a psychologist are:

  • Are you accepting new patients?
  • Do you work with men, women, children, teens, couples or families? (Whatever group you are looking for.)
  • Are you a licensed psychologist in the state where I live?
  • How many years have you been practicing?
  • What are your areas of expertise?
  • Do you have experience helping people with symptoms or problems like mine?
  • What is your approach to treatment? Have the treatments you use been proven effective for dealing with my problem?
  • What are your fees? Do you have a sliding-scale policy if I can’t afford your regular fees? Do you accept credit cards or personal checks? Do you expect payment at the time of service?
  • Do you accept my insurance? Are you affiliated with any managed care organizations? Do you accept Medicare or Medicaid?
  • Will you accept direct billing to or payment from my insurance company?
  • What are your policies concerning things like missed appointments?

If you have particular concerns that are deal-breakers for you, ask the psychologist about them. You might want to work with a psychologist who shares your religious views or cultural background, for example. While some psychologists are more open to disclosing personal information than others, the response will give you important information about whether you’ll work well together.

While you’re assessing a psychologist, he or she will also be assessing you. To ensure that psychotherapy is successful, the psychologist must determine whether there’s a good match when it comes to personality as well as professional expertise. If the psychologist feels the fit isn’t right — perhaps because you need someone with a different specialty area — he or she will refer you to another psychologist who can help.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

How can I pay for psychotherapy?
If you have private health insurance or are enrolled in a health maintenance organization or other type of managed care plan, it may cover mental health services such as psychotherapy. Before you start psychotherapy, you should check with your insurance plan to see what is covered.

Thanks to the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, group insurers of more than 50 employees that offer mental health and substance use services must cover both mental and physical health equally. That means insurers are no longer allowed to charge higher co-pays or deductibles for psychological services or arbitrarily limit the number of psychotherapy sessions you can receive.

However, insurance companies vary in terms of which mental health conditions they cover. That means some insurance policies may not cover certain mental health disorders.

Your employer may also offer an employee assistance program. These programs typically offer one to eight sessions of mental health treatment for free or at a very low cost. Your spouse or partner may also be eligible for these benefits.

Government-sponsored health care programs are another potential source of mental health services. These include Medicare for people age 65 and older and people with disabilities, as well as health insurance plans for military personnel and their dependents. In some states, Medicaid programs may also cover mental health services provided by psychologists.

Other options include community mental health centers, free clinics, religious organizations, and university and medical center training programs. These groups often offer high-quality services at low cost.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

What should I bring to my first psychotherapy appointment?
A typical psychotherapy session lasts 45 to 50 minutes. To make the most of your time, make a list of the points you want to cover in your first session and what you want to work on in psychotherapy. Be prepared to share information about what’s bringing you to the psychologist. Even a vague idea of what you want to accomplish can help you and your psychologist proceed efficiently and effectively.

If you’ve been referred by another professional, such as a physician or attorney, notes about why they did so can be helpful. If a teacher suggested that your child undergo psychotherapy, you might bring in report cards or notes from his or her teacher. Your psychologist can also call these professionals for additional information if you give written permission. Records from previous psychotherapy or psychological testing can also help your new psychologist get a better sense of you.

If you’re on any medications, jot down which medications and what dosage so your psychologist can have that information.

It can be difficult to remember everything that happens during a psychotherapy session. A notebook can help you capture your psychologist’s questions or suggestions and your own questions and ideas. Jotting a few things down during your session can help you stay engaged in the process.

Most people have more than a single session of psychotherapy. Bring your calendar so you can schedule your next appointment before you leave your psychologist’s office.

You’ll also need to bring some form of payment. If you’ll be using your health insurance to cover your psychotherapy, bring along your insurance card so your psychologist will be able to bill your insurer. (Some insurers require psychologists to check photo IDs, so bring that along, too.) If you’ll be paying for psychotherapy out of pocket, bring along a credit card, checkbook or cash.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

What should I expect during my first psychotherapy appointment?
For your first session, your psychologist may ask you to come in a little early to fill out paperwork if you haven’t already done so.

Don’t worry that you won’t know what to do once the session actually begins. It’s normal to feel a little anxious in the first few sessions. Psychologists have experience setting the tone and getting things started. They are trained to guide each session in effective ways to help you get closer to your goals. In fact, the first session might seem like a game of 20 questions.

Sitting face to face with you, your psychologist could start off by acknowledging the courage it takes to start psychotherapy. He or she may also go over logistical matters, such as fees, how to make or cancel an appointment, and confidentiality, if he or she hasn’t already done so by phone.

Then the psychologist may ask a question like, “What brought you here today?” or “What made you decide to come in now rather than a month or a year ago?” It helps to identify your problem, even if you’re not sure why you have it or how to handle it. For example, you might feel angry or sad without knowing what’s causing your feelings or how to stop feeling that way. If the problem is too painful to talk about, the psychologist shouldn’t push you to say more than you’re comfortable sharing until you get to know each other better. It’s OK for you to say that you are not ready to talk about something just yet.

Your psychologist will also want to know about your own and your family’s history of psychological problems such as depression, anxiety or similar issues. You’ll also explore how your problem is affecting your everyday life. Your psychologist will ask questions like whether you’ve noticed any changes in your sleeping habits, appetite or other behaviors. A psychologist will also want to know what kind of social support you have, so he or she will also ask about your family, friends and coworkers.

It’s important not to rush this process, which may take more than one session. While guiding you through the process, your psychologist will let you set the pace when it comes to telling your story. As you gain trust in your psychologist and the process, you may be willing to share things you didn’t feel comfortable answering at first.

Once your psychologist has a full history, the two of you will work together to create a treatment plan. This collaborative goal-setting is important, because both of you need to be invested in achieving your goals. Your psychologist may write down the goals and read them back to you, so you’re both clear about what you’ll be working on. Some psychologists even create a treatment contract that lays out the purpose of treatment, its expected duration and goals, with both the individual’s and psychologist’s responsibilities outlined.

At the end of your first session, the psychologist may also have suggestions for immediate action. If you’re depressed, for example, the psychologist might suggest seeing a physician to rule out any underlying medical conditions, such as a thyroid disorder. If you have chronic pain, you may need physical therapy, medication and help for insomnia as well as psychotherapy.

By the end of the first few sessions, you should have a new understanding of your problem, a game plan and a new sense of hope.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

What should I expect as I continue psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is often referred to as talk therapy, and that’s what you’ll be doing as your treatment continues. You and your psychologist will engage in a dialogue about your problems and how to fix them. As your psychotherapy goes on, you’ll continue the process of building a trusting, therapeutic relationship with your psychologist.

As part of the ongoing getting-to-know-you process, your psychologist may want to do some assessment. Psychologists are trained to administer and interpret tests that can help to determine the depth of your depression, identify important personality characteristics, uncover unhealthy coping strategies such as drinking problems, or identify learning disabilities. If parents have brought in a bright child who’s nonetheless struggling academically, for example, a psychologist might assess whether the child has attention problems or an undetected learning disability. Test results can help your psychologist diagnose a condition or provide more information about the way you think, feel and behave.

You and your psychologist will also keep exploring your problems through talking. For some people, just being able to talk freely about a problem brings relief. In the early stages, your psychologist will help you clarify what’s troubling you. You’ll then move into a problem-solving phase, working together to find alternative ways of thinking, behaving and managing your feelings. You might role-play new behaviors during your sessions and do homework to practice new skills in between. As you go along, you and your psychologist will assess your progress and determine whether your original goals need to be reformulated or expanded.

In some cases, your psychologist may suggest involving others. If you’re having relationship problems, for instance, having a spouse or partner join you in a session can be helpful. Similarly, an individual having parenting problems might want to bring his or her child in. And someone who has trouble interacting with others may benefit from group psychotherapy.

As you begin to resolve the problem that brought you to psychotherapy, you’ll also be learning new skills that will help you see yourself and the world differently. You’ll learn how to distinguish between situations you can change and those you can’t and how to focus on improving the things within your control.

You’ll also learn resilience, which will help you better cope with future challenges. A 2006 study of treatment for depression and anxiety, for example, found that the cognitive and behavioral approaches used in psychotherapy have an enduring effect that reduces the risk of symptoms returning even after treatment ends. Another study found a similar result when evaluating the long-term effects of psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Soon you’ll have a new perspective and new ways of thinking and behaving.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

How can I make the most of psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is different from medical or dental treatments, where patients typically sit passively while professionals work on them and tell them their diagnosis and treatment plans. Psychotherapy isn’t about a psychologist telling you what to do. It’s an active collaboration between you and the psychologist.

In fact, hundreds of studies have found that a very important part of what makes psychotherapy work is the collaborative relationship between psychologist and patient, also known as a therapeutic alliance. The therapeutic alliance is what happens when the psychologist and patient work together to achieve the patient’s goals.

So be an active, engaged participant in psychotherapy. Help set goals for treatment. Work with your psychologist to come up with a timeline. Ask questions about your treatment plan. If you don’t think a session went well, share that feedback and have a dialogue so that the psychologist can respond and tailor your treatment more effectively. Ask your psychologist for suggestions about books or websites with useful information about your problems.

And because behavior change is difficult, practice is also key. It’s easy to fall back into old patterns of thought and behavior, so stay mindful between sessions. Notice how you’re reacting to things and take what you learn in sessions with your psychologist and apply it to real-life situations. When you bring what you’ve learned between sessions back to your psychologist, that information can inform what happens in his or her office to further help you. Through regular practice, you’ll consolidate the gains you’ve made, get through psychotherapy quicker and maintain your progress after you’re done.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

Should I worry about confidentiality?
Psychologists consider maintaining your privacy extremely important. It is a part of their professional code of ethics. More importantly, it is a condition of their professional license. Psychologists who violate patient confidentiality risk losing their ability to practice psychology in the future.

To make your psychotherapy as effective as possible, you need to be open and honest about your most private thoughts and behaviors. That can be nerve-wracking, but you don’t have to worry about your psychologist sharing your secrets with anyone except in the most extreme situations. If you reveal that you plan to hurt yourself or others, for example, your psychologist is duty-bound to report that to authorities for your own protection and the safety of others. Psychologists must also report abuse, exploitation or neglect of children, the elderly or people with disabilities. Your psychologist may also have to provide some information in court cases.

Of course, you can always give your psychologist written permission to share all or part of your discussions with your physician, teachers or anyone else if you desire.

Psychologists take confidentiality so seriously that they may not even acknowledge that they know you if they bump into you at the supermarket or anywhere else. And it’s OK for you to not say hello either. Your psychologist won’t feel bad; he or she will understand that you’re protecting your privacy.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

How effective is psychotherapy?
Hundreds of studies have found that psychotherapy helps people make positive changes in their lives.

Reviews of these studies show that about 75 percent of people who enter psychotherapy show some benefit. Other reviews have found that the average person who engages in psychotherapy is better off by the end of treatment than 80 percent of those who don’t receive treatment at all.

Successful treatment is the result of three factors working together:

  • Evidence-based treatment that is appropriate for your problem.
  • The psychologist’s clinical expertise.
  • Your characteristics, values, culture and preferences.

When people begin psychotherapy, they often feel that their distress is never going to end. Psychotherapy helps people understand that they can do something to improve their situation. That leads to changes that enhance healthy behavior, whether it’s improving relationships, expressing emotions better, doing better at work or school, or thinking more positively.

While some issues and problems respond best to a particular style of therapy, what remains critical and important is the therapeutic alliance and relationship with your psychologist.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

What if psychotherapy doesn’t seem to be working?
When you began psychotherapy, your psychologist probably worked with you to develop goals and a rough timeline for treatment. As you go along, you should be asking yourself whether the psychologist seems to understand you, whether the treatment plan makes sense and whether you feel like you’re making progress.

Some people begin to feel better in about six to 12 sessions. If you don’t start seeing signs of progress, discuss it with your psychologist. Your psychologist may initiate a conversation about what to do. If he or she doesn’t, bring it up yourself. You could ask your psychologist about additional or alternative treatment methods, for example. Sometimes speaking up to your psychologist can be very empowering, especially since your psychologist will be understanding and nonjudgmental instead of offended.

Keep in mind that as psychotherapy progresses, you may feel overwhelmed. You may feel more angry, sad or confused than you did at the beginning of the process. That doesn’t mean psychotherapy isn’t working. Instead, it can be a sign that your psychologist is pushing you to confront difficult truths or do the hard work of making changes. In such cases, these strong emotions are a sign of growth rather than evidence of a standstill. Remember, sometimes things may feel worse before they get better.

In some cases, of course, the relationship between a patient and the psychologist isn’t as good as it should be. The psychologist should be willing to address those kinds of issues, too. If you’re worried about your psychologist’s diagnosis of your problems, it might be helpful to get a second opinion from another psychologist, as long as you let your original psychologist know you’re doing so.

If the situation doesn’t improve, you and your psychologist may decide it’s time for you to start working with a new psychologist. Don’t take it personally. It’s not you; it’s just a bad fit. And because the therapeutic alliance is so crucial to the effectiveness of psychotherapy, you need a good fit.

If you do decide to move on, don’t just stop coming to your first psychologist. Instead, tell him or her that you’re leaving and why you’re doing so. A good psychologist will refer you to someone else, wish you luck and urge you not to give up on psychotherapy just because your first attempt didn’t go well. Tell your next psychologist what didn’t work to help ensure a better fit.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

How long should psychotherapy take?
How long psychotherapy takes depends on several factors: the type of problem or disorder, the patient’s characteristics and history, the patient’s goals, what’s going on in the patient’s life outside psychotherapy and how fast the patient is able to make progress.

Some people feel relief after only a single session of psychotherapy. Meeting with a psychologist can give a new perspective, help them see situations differently and offer relief from pain. Most people find some benefit after a few sessions, especially if they’re working on a single, well-defined problem and didn’t wait too long before seeking help.

If you’ve been suffering from extreme anxiety, for example, you might feel better simply because you’re taking action — a sign of hope that things will change. Your psychologist might also offer a fresh perspective early in your treatment that gives you a new understanding of your problem. And even if your problem doesn’t go away after a few sessions, you may feel confident that you’re already making progress and learning new coping skills that will serve you well in the future.

Other people and situations take longer — maybe a year or two — to benefit from psychotherapy. They may have experienced serious traumas, have multiple problems or just be unclear about what’s making them unhappy. It’s important to stick with psychotherapy long enough to give it a chance to work.

People with serious mental illness or other significant life changes may need ongoing psychotherapy. Regular sessions can provide the support they need to maintain their day-to-day functioning.

Others continue psychotherapy even after they solve the problems that brought them there initially. That’s because they continue to experience new insights, improved well-being and better functioning.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

How do I know when I’m ready to stop psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy isn’t a lifetime commitment.

In one classic study, half of psychotherapy patients improved after eight sessions. And 75 percent improved after six months.

You and your psychologist will decide together when you are ready to end psychotherapy. One day, you’ll realize you’re no longer going to bed and waking up worrying about the problem that brought you to psychotherapy. Or you will get positive feedback from others. For a child who was having trouble in school, a teacher might report that the child is no longer disruptive and is making progress both academically and socially. Together you and your psychologist will assess whether you’ve achieved the goals you established at the beginning of the process.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

What happens after psychotherapy ends?
You probably visit your physician for periodic check-ups. You can do the same with your psychologist.

You might want to meet with your psychologist again a couple of weeks or a month after psychotherapy ends just to report how you’re doing. If all is well, you can wrap things up at that follow-up session.

And don’t think of psychotherapy as having a beginning, middle and end. You can solve one problem, then face a new situation in your life and feel the skills you learned during your last course of treatment need a little tweaking. Just contact your psychologist again. After all, he or she already knows your story.

Of course, you don’t have to wait for a crisis to see your psychologist again. You might just need a “booster” session to reinforce what you learned last time. Think of it as a mental health tune-up.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-psychotherapy.aspx.

Couples Therapy FAQ
What is Gottman Method Couples Therapy?
Gottman Method Couples Therapy is a structured, goal-oriented, and scientifically-based therapy developed by Dr. John Gottman and his wife Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman in the 1980s. This therapy is based on nearly forty years of research with over 3,000 couples about what makes relationships work. It’s grounded on what actually works in relationships that are happy and stable, not idealistic notions or anecdotal evidence of what marriage ought to be.

Gottman Method Couples Therapy consists of an assessment phase and intervention phase. The assessment phase focuses on fully understanding the couple’s relationship history, the strengths and problem areas in their relationship, and their therapy goals. This phase typically involves 3 sessions with the couples therapist and completion of a written or online relationship assessment. At the end of this phase, a decision is made about whether couples therapy is a suitable treatment for the couples, based on their needs and goals. If couples therapy is contraindicated, then referrals and other treatment options are discussed. The intervention phase focuses on research-based interventions and exercises to help couples manage conflict better; deepen their friendship, affection, and intimacy; and create shared meaning and purpose.

What are the goals of Gottman Method Couples Therapy?
The overall goals of Gottman Method Couples Therapy are to help couples manage conflict better; deepen their friendship, affection, and intimacy; and create shared meaning and purpose. This therapy helps couples strengthen nine components of healthy relationships, or what is more commonly called the Sound Relationship House.

Build Love Maps
The first three levels of the Sound Relationship House (SRH) are about the couple’s friendship with each other, which is the foundation of a strong relationship. The first level is Love Maps, which refers to how well you know one another. Healthy couples are intimately familiar with each other and remember the big and small events of each other’s lives. How well do you know each other’s inner psychological world, personal histories, hopes and joys, and worries and fears? Building love maps involves asking open-ended questions and maintaining awareness of your partner’s world.

Share Fondness and Admiration
The second level is Share Fondness and Admiration, which is the antidote for contempt. This involves changing a habit of mind from scanning the environment for your partner’s mistakes and then correcting them, to scanning the environment for what your partner is doing right and building a culture of appreciation, fondness, affection, and respect. Getting through stressful times and managing conflict is much easier if you and your partner regularly show how much you admire and appreciate each other.

Turn Towards Instead of Away
The third level is Turn Towards Instead of Away in everyday moments. The small moments of everyday life are actually the building blocks of a relationship. A partner has the opportunity to either turn towards, turn away, or turn against a bid from his or her partner. A bid is a comment or gesture for some sort of positive connection, such as conversation, humor, affection, or support. The small everyday moments in a relationship are opportunities for turning towards one another. Accepting bids for emotional connection are like making deposits into your relationship’s emotional bank account.

The Positive Perspective
The first three levels determine whether this level is positive or negative. Even though some level of negativity is necessary for a stable relationship, positivity is what nourishes your love. The presence of positive emotions during everyday interactions and during conflict is crucial. If the first three levels of the SRH are not working, then couples tend to be in a negative perspective and are hypervigilant for negativity. People are in negative perspective because they see their partner as an adversary, not a friend. To change that state, you need to use the first three levels of the SRH to build your friendship.

Manage Conflict
We use the term “managing” conflict rather than “resolving” conflict because relationship conflict is natural and it has functional, positive aspects. For example, conflict helps us learn how to better love and understand our partners, deal with change, and renew courtship over time. We try to manage but not eliminate conflict. There are two kinds of problems in our relationships: perpetual problems and solvable problems.

Perpetual problems are those problems that a couple returns to over and over again. All couples have perpetual problems, which are due to fundamental differences in personalities, core beliefs, or lifestyle needs. Research shows that 69% of relationship conflict is about perpetual problems. With perpetual problems, the key is to learn how to dialogue about your different perspectives and reach some degree of acceptance and understanding of each other. If couples cannot establish such a dialogue, their conflict may become gridlocked which eventually leads to emotional disengagement.

Solvable problems within a relationship are about something situational. The conflict is simply about that topic, and there may not be a deeper meaning behind the each partner’s position. A solution can be found and maintained. To manage conflict from solvable problems, couples practice self-soothing, use softened startups, make repairs and deescalate, listen to each other’s underlying feelings and dreams, accept influence, and compromise.

Make Life Dreams Come True
When partners support each other’s life goals dreams, it generates many positive feelings. We feel heard and supported, cherished by our partner, and happier in our life. Healthy couples work consistently to develop a relationship that encourages each person to talk honestly about his or her goals, hopes, values, beliefs, and dreams for the future.

Create Shared Meaning
Healthy couples work to create a life of shared meaning and purpose, a relationship rich with symbols and rituals and an appreciation for your roles and goals that link you together. People create shared meaning by intentionally developing rituals of emotional connection, identifying shared goals, supporting each other’s life roles, and agreeing about basic symbols such as what a home or family means. Every committed relationship is a cross-cultural experience in which we blend together each partner’s legacy, culture, values, and beliefs to create an entirely new culture.

Trust
Trust is the state that occurs when you believe your partner has your best interest in mind and acts in ways that benefit you. It’s knowing your partner values your interest and needs as much as their own. In other words, this mean, “my partner has my back and is there for me.”

Commitment
Commitment means knowing that your relationship with each other is your lifelong journey, for better or for worse. It involves generating frequent thoughts and acts that cherish your partner’s positive qualities and minimize your focus on their negative faults.

SOURCE: Gottman Institute. (2017). The Gottman method. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/about/the-gottman-method/.

Who can benefit from Gottman Method Couples Therapy?
Gottman Method Couples Therapy was developed to help couples from all economic, racial, sexual orientation, and cultural backgrounds.

In his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman wrote, “Although you may feel your situation is unique, we have found that all marital conflicts fall into two categories: Either they can be resolved, or they are perpetual, which means they will be part of your lives forever, in some form or another.”

Because 69% of marital conflicts are caused by perpetual problems, Gottman Method Couples Therapy often focuses on helping couples learn ways to understanding and communicate about their perpetual problems. However, even strong couples with “normal” levels of conflict can learn to build stronger relationships overall and healthier ways to cope with issues as they arise in the future.

What were the findings from the Gottman marriage research?
In 1976, Robert Levenson and John Gottman teamed up to combine the study of emotion with psycho-physiological measurement and a video-recall method that gave us rating dial measures (still applying game theory) of how people felt during conflict. That was the new way of getting the “talk table” numbers. The research also became longitudinal. They made no predictions in the first study, but they were interested in a measure of “physiological linkage,” because a prior study showed that the skin conductance of two nurses was correlated only if they disliked one another. They thought that might be linked to negative affect in couples. Indeed it was.

They were also amazed that in their first study with 30 couples they were able to “predict” the change in marital satisfaction almost perfectly with their physiological measures. The results were that the more physiologically aroused couples were in all channels (heart rate, skin conductance, gross motor activity, and blood velocity) the more their marriages deteriorated in happiness over a three-year period, even controlling the initial level of marital satisfaction). The rating dial and their observational coding of the interaction also “predicted” changes in relationship satisfaction. They had never seen such large correlations in their data. Furthermore, they had preceded the conflict conversation with a reunion conversation in which couples talked about the events of their day before the conflict discussion, and they had followed the conflict discussion with a positive topic. What was amazing was that harsh startup by women in the conflict discussion was predictable by the male partner’s disinterest or irritability in the events of the day discussion. They had then discovered that the quality of the couple’s friendship, especially as maintained by men, was critical in understanding conflict. Furthermore, the ability to rebound from conflict to the positive conversation became a marker of emotion regulation ability of couples.

Both Robert Levenson and John Gottman had discovered Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen’s Facial Affect Coding System (FACS), and Gottman subsequently developed the Specific Affect Coding System (SPAFF), which was an integration of FACS and earlier systems in the Gottman lab. The SPAFF became the main system that Gottman used to code couples’ interaction. At first it took 25 hours to code 15 minutes of interaction, but later Gottman was able to get the same coding done in just 45 minutes, with no loss of reliability. Gottman also began applying time-series analysis to the analysis of interaction data. He wrote a book on time-series analysis to explain these methods to psychologists, and developed some new methods for analyzing dominance and bidirectionality with James Ringland. Gottman and Levenson then got their first grant together and began attempting to replicate their observations from the first study. The subsequent studies that they conducted in their labs with their colleagues eventually spanned the entire life course, the longest following couples for 20 years in Levenson’s Berkeley lab.

The Gottman lab at the University of Illinois also studied the linkages between marital interaction, parenting, and children’s social development (with Lynn Katz), and later at the University of Washington involved studying these linkages with infants (with Alyson Shapiro). Gottman developed the concept of Meta-Emotion, which is how people feel about emotion, specific emotions (like anger) and emotional expression and emotional understanding in general. Meta-emotion mismatches between parents in that study predicted divorce with 80% accuracy.

Gottman and Levenson discovered that couples interaction had enormous stability over time (about 80% stability in conflict discussions separated by 3 years). They also discovered that most relationship problems (69%) never get resolved but are “perpetual” problems based on personality differences between partners.

In seven longitudinal studies, one with violent couples (with Neil Jacobson), the predictions replicated. Dr. John Gottman could predict whether a couple would divorce with an average of over 90% accuracy, across studies using the ratio of positive to negative SPAFF codes, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling), physiology, the rating dial, and an interview we devised, the Oral History Interview, as coded by Kim Buehlman’s coding system. Dr. John Gottman could predict whether or not their stable couples would be happy or unhappy using measures of positive affect during conflict, which Jim Coan and Dr. John Gottman discovered was used not randomly but to physiologically soothe the partner. Dr. John Gottman also discovered that men accepting influence from women was predictive of happy and stable marriages. Bob Levenson also discovered that humor was physiologically soothing, that empathy had a physiological substrate (with Anna Ruef) using the rating dial.

SOURCE: The Gottman Institute. (2017). Marriage and couples. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/about/research/couples/.

That's a lot of information. Can you summarize it?

SOURCE: The Gottman Institute. (2017). Marriage and couples. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/about/research/couples/.

Can Dr. Gottman really predict with 94% accuracy which couples will divorce?
Statements about the 94% accuracy rate of divorce prediction have become a source of confusion. What Dr. Gottman is able to say is that a particular couple is behaving like the couples that were in the group that got divorced in his 1992 study (Buehlman, K., Gottman, J.M., & Katz, L.), a study in which Dr. Gottman predicted with 93.6% accuracy which couples would divorce.

Altogether, Dr. Gottman has completed seven studies that explored what predicts divorce. These studies included three groups: 1) couples that divorced 2) couples that stayed together and were happy and 3) couples that stayed together and were unhappy. Dr. Gottman’s research helped him identify specific behavior patterns in couples that he later termed the “Masters” and “Disasters” of relationships.

Six of the seven studies have been predictive—each began with a hypothesis about factors leading to divorce. Based on these factors, Dr. Gottman predicted who would divorce, then followed the couples for a pre-determined length of time. Finally, he drew conclusions about the accuracy of his predictions. He has also consistently evaluated other theoretical models that might predict differently and reported the results of these analyses (e.g., Gottman & Levenson, 2002). This is true prediction. Prior to his six prediction studies, Dr. Gottman did an initial post-hoc analyses study back in 1980 to help him determine what factors were useful in predicting divorce.

Dr. Gottman’s ability to predict divorce among newlyweds is more clearly understood by imagining an urn that contains 130 white balls (representing couples that stayed married) and 17 red balls (representing couples that ended up divorcing) for a total of 147 balls. The chances that Dr. Gottman could blindly pick balls out of the urn and guess which were red and which were white with 90% accuracy could only happen by chance 1 x 10-19 times. That is the number point one (0.1) with 18 zeroes in front of the number one. This means it is practically impossible that Dr. Gottman could predict which couples would divorce with much accuracy by chance alone. The factors he used to make his predictions were indeed clearly related to why couples ended up divorced. By looking for those factors, he was able to predict divorce fairly accurately. For the Gottman, Katz and Hooven study, where Gottman et. al. picked out all seven divorced couples out of 56, the probability is approximately .000000000384 or 3.84×10-9.

SOURCE: The Gottman Institute. (2017). Research FAQ. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/about/research/faq/.

Which negative communication patterns predict divorce?
The four most corrosive negative behavior patterns are called “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” Specifically, these are:

Criticism: Stating one’s complaints as a defect in the other partner’s personality. Example: “You always talk about yourself. You are so selfish.”

Contempt: Making statements from a relative position of superiority. Contempt is the greatest predictor of divorce and must be eliminated. Example: “You’re an idiot.”

Defensiveness: Self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or innocent victimhood. Defensiveness wards off a perceived attack. Example: “It’s not my fault that we’re always late; it’s your fault.”

Stonewalling: Emotional withdrawal from interaction. Example: The listener does not give the speaker the usual nonverbal signals that the listener is “tracking” the speaker.
Stonewalling predicts an early divorce (an average of 5.6 years after the wedding). Emotional withdrawal and anger predict a later divorcing (an average of 16.2 years after the wedding).

SOURCE: The Gottman Institute. (2017). Research FAQ. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/about/research/faq/.

Does physiological arousal predict changes in marital satisfaction?
Yes. The more “diffusely physiologically aroused” (in other words, in “fight or flight” mode) someone is during a conflict conversation, the more his or her marital satisfaction is likely to decline during a period of three years.

Dr. Gottman’s research found that men tend to react with more signs of physiological stress than do women during disagreements, and therefore, men are more likely to withdraw (stonewall). It is interesting to note that he also observed stonewalling among same-sex couples.

SOURCE: The Gottman Institute. (2017). Research FAQ. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/about/research/faq/.

Does the Gottmans research apply to same-sex couples?
In separate lines of research, Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman have observed the strength and resilience of same-sex couples, even in the midst of the cultural and social stresses to which same-sex couples are uniquely vulnerable. These couples – like all couples – need and deserve tailored, research-based support when they are in distress.

Together, the Gottmans have a commitment to assuring that gay and lesbian couples have resources to help strengthen and support their relationships. Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman made a key contribution to research on daughters of lesbians: her work showed that daughters with lesbian moms do just as well as those raised by straight moms. Dr. John Gottman conducted the first longitudinal study of its kind of gay and lesbian relationships using multiple methods and measures. He was able assess the emotional strengths and weaknesses of the relationships, and to learn what makes these relationships more or less stable.

What Makes Same-Sex Relationships Succeed or Fail?
Dr. Gottman and his colleagues conducted a twelve-year study of same-sex couples to learn what makes same-sex relationships succeed or fail. The research demonstrates that all couple types—straight or gay—have many of the same problems and the same paths to staying happy together. But research has shown that there are also some qualities of strength (like humor and ability to calm down during a fight) that are especially key to same-sex couples.

The 12 Year Study
Using state-of-the-art methods while studying 21 gay and 21 lesbian couples, Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Robert Levenson have learned what makes same-sex relationships succeed or fail.

One key result: Overall, relationship satisfaction and quality are about the same across all couple types (straight, gay, lesbian) that Dr. Gottman has studied. This result supports prior research by Lawrence Kurdek and Pepper Schwartz: They find that gay and lesbian relationships are comparable to straight relationships in many ways.

“Gay and lesbian couples, like straight couples, deal with everyday ups-and-downs of close relationships,” Dr. Gottman observes. “We know that these ups-and-downs may occur in a social context of isolation from family, workplace prejudice, and other social barriers that are unique to gay and lesbian couples.” The research uncovered differences, however, that suggest that workshops tailored to gay and lesbian couples can have a strong impact on relationships.

Results from the Gottman Gay/Lesbian Couples Study
Gay/lesbian couples are more upbeat in the face of conflict. Compared to straight couples, gay and lesbian couples use more affection and humor when they bring up a disagreement, and partners are more positive in how they receive it. Gay and lesbian couples are also more likely to remain positive after a disagreement. “When it comes to emotions, we think these couples may operate with very different principles than straight couples. Straight couples may have a lot to learn from gay and lesbian relationships,” explains Gottman.

Gay/lesbian couples use fewer controlling, hostile emotional tactics. Gottman and Levenson also discovered that gay and lesbian partners display less belligerence, domineering and fear with each other than straight couples do. “The difference on these ‘control’ related emotions suggests that fairness and power-sharing between the partners is more important and more common in gay and lesbian relationships than in straight ones,” Gottman explained.

In a fight, gay and lesbian couples take it less personally. In straight couples, it is easier to hurt a partner with a negative comment than to make one’s partner feel good with a positive comment. This appears to be reversed in gay and lesbian couples. Gay and lesbian partners’ positive comments have more impact on feeling good, while their negative comments are less likely to produce hurt feelings. “This trend suggests that gay and lesbian partners have a tendency to accept some degree of negativity without taking it personally,” observes Gottman.

Unhappy gay and lesbian couples tend to show low levels of “physiological arousal.” This is just the reverse for straight couples. For straights, physiological arousal signifies ongoing aggravation. The ongoing aroused state—including elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, and jitteriness—means partners have trouble calming down in the face of conflict. For gay and lesbian couples this lower level of arousal shows that they are able to soothe one another.

Gay and Lesbian Differences in Emotional Expressiveness
In a fight, lesbians show more anger, humor, excitement, and interest than conflicting gay men. This suggests that lesbians are more emotionally expressive—positively and negatively—than gay men. This result may be the effect of having two women in a relationship. Both have been raised in a society where expressiveness is more acceptable for women than for men, and it shows up in their relationships.

Gay men need to be especially careful to avoid negativity in conflict. When it comes to repair, gay couples differ from straight and lesbian couples. If the initiator of conflict in a gay relationship becomes too negative, his partner is not able to repair as effectively as lesbian or straight partners. “This suggests that gay men may need extra help to offset the impact of negative emotions that inevitably come along when couples fight,” explains Gottman.

SOURCE: The Gottman Institute. (2017). Same-sex couples. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/about/research/same-sex-couples/.

If we notice these problems in our relationship, is there hope for us?
Yes! The most important discovery to come from the Gottmans’ research is how we can predict divorce, and from that we know what couples need to do differently to strengthen their relationships. Changing those negative behaviors that predict divorce to more positive behaviors that predict success can significantly change the course of your relationship and make it better.

SOURCE: The Gottman Institute. (2017). Research FAQ. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/about/research/faq/.

Group Psychotherapy FAQ
What is group psychotherapy?
Group psychotherapy is a special form of therapy in which a small number of people meet together under the guidance of a professionally trained therapist to help themselves and one another. The therapy has been widely used and has been a standard treatment option for over 50 years.

If you stop and think about it, each of us has been raised in group environments, either through our families, schools, organized activities, or work. These are the environments in which we grow and develop as human beings. Group psychotherapy is no different. It provides a place where you come together with others to share problems or concerns, to better understand your own situation, and to learn from and with each other.

Group therapy helps people learn about themselves and improve their interpersonal relationships. It addresses feelings of isolation, depression or anxiety. And it helps people make significant changes so they feel better about the quality of their lives. Additionally, group therapists can apply the principles of group to other settings and situations such as businesses, schools and community organizations.

Group works! In studies comparing group psychotherapy to individual therapy, group therapy has been shown to be as effective and sometimes even more effective. In cases of medical illness, there is substantial evidence that this form of therapy helps people cope better with their illness, enhances the quality of their lives and, in some cases, such as breast cancer, has even been shown to help people live longer.

If you are considering therapy, together you and your therapist can explore the nature of your problem. You will work to develop a better understanding of the problem and discuss what changes might make the situation better. In addition to group therapy, there are several other options available, including:

  • Talking with an individual therapist
  • Participating in therapy as a couple or family
  • Receiving medication
  • A combination of the above treatments

Your therapist can help you understand the benefits of each of these treatment options and determine what’s right for you.

SOURCE: American Group Psychotherapy Association. (n.d.). What is group psychotherapy? Retrieved from https://www.groupsinc.org/home/practice-resources/what-is-group-psychotherapy-/.

What are the benefits of group psychotherapy?
Joining a group of strangers may sound intimidating at first, but group therapy provides benefits that individual therapy may not. Psychologists say, in fact, that group members are almost always surprised by how rewarding the group experience can be.

Groups can act as a support network and a sounding board. Other members of the group often help you come up with specific ideas for improving a difficult situation or life challenge, and hold you accountable along the way.

Regularly talking and listening to others also helps you put your own problems in perspective. Many people experience mental health difficulties, but few speak openly about them to people they don’t know well. Oftentimes, you may feel like you are the only one struggling — but you’re not. It can be a relief to hear others discuss what they’re going through, and realize you’re not alone.

Diversity is another important benefit of group therapy. People have different personalities and backgrounds, and they look at situations in different ways. By seeing how other people tackle problems and make positive changes, you can discover a whole range of strategies for facing your own concerns.

While group members are a valuable source of support, formal group therapy sessions offer benefits beyond informal self-help and support groups. Group therapy sessions are led by one or more psychologists with specialized training, who teach group members proven strategies for managing specific problems. If you’re involved in an anger-management group, for instance, your psychologist will describe scientifically tested strategies for controlling anger. That expert guidance can help you make the most of your group therapy experience.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Psychotherapy: Understanding group therapy. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/group-therapy.aspx.

What should I expect in group psychotherapy?
Group therapy involves one or more psychologists who lead a group of roughly five to 15 patients. Typically, groups meet for an hour or two each week. Some people attend individual therapy in addition to groups, while others participate in groups only.

Many groups are designed to target a specific problem, such as depression, obesity, panic disorder, social anxiety, chronic pain or substance abuse. Other groups focus more generally on improving social skills, helping people deal with a range of issues such as anger, shyness, loneliness and low self-esteem. Groups often help those who have experienced loss, whether it be a spouse, a child or someone who died by suicide.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Psychotherapy: Understanding group therapy. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/group-therapy.aspx.

Who can benefit from group psychotherapy?
Like individual therapy, group therapy can benefit almost anyone. Some of the issues typically addressed include:

  • Difficulties with interpersonal relationships
  • Aging
  • Medical illness
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Loss
  • Trauma
  • Addictive disorders

SOURCE: American Group Psychotherapy Association. (n.d.). What is group psychotherapy? Retrieved from https://www.groupsinc.org/home/practice-resources/what-is-group-psychotherapy-/.

Will there be people with similar problems in my group?
The therapist’s role is to evaluate each member’s problems prior to forming the group. Usually there is a mix of members who can learn from each other. While some members will have similar circumstances, it’s not necessary for all to be dealing with exactly the same problem. In fact, people with different strengths and difficulties are often in the best position to help one another.

SOURCE: American Group Psychotherapy Association. (n.d.). What is group psychotherapy? Retrieved from https://www.groupsinc.org/home/practice-resources/what-is-group-psychotherapy-/.

Why is group psychotherapy useful?
When someone is thinking about joining a group, it is normal to have questions or concerns. What am I going to get out of this? Will there be enough time to deal with my own problems in a group setting? What if I don’t like the people in my group?

Joining a group is useful because it provides opportunities to learn with and from other people, to understand one’s own patterns of thought and behavior and those of others, and to perceive how group members react to one another. We live and interact with people every day and often there are things that other people are experiencing or grappling with that can be beneficial to share with others. In group therapy, you learn that perhaps you’re not as different as you think or that you’re not alone. You’ll meet and interact with people, and the whole group learns to work on shared problems — one of the most beneficial aspects. The more you involve yourself in the group, the more you get out of it.

SOURCE: American Group Psychotherapy Association. (n.d.). What is group psychotherapy? Retrieved from https://www.groupsinc.org/home/practice-resources/what-is-group-psychotherapy-/.

How much should I share in group psychotherapy?
Confidentiality is an important part of the ground rules for group therapy. However, there’s no absolute guarantee of privacy when sharing with others, so use common sense when divulging personal information. That said, remember that you’re not the only one sharing your personal story. Groups work best where there is open and honest communication between members.

Group members will start out as strangers, but in a short amount of time, you’ll most likely view them as a valuable and trusted source of support.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Psychotherapy: Understanding group therapy. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/group-therapy.aspx.

What if I'm uncomfortable discussing my problems in front of others?
It’s not unusual to feel uneasy or embarrassed when first joining a group, but soon you begin to develop feelings of interest and trust. Most clients find that group therapy provides a great deal of relief because it allows them a chance to talk with others who are experiencing similar problems — in a private, confidential setting. Many people who have experienced group therapy believe that working together with others is helpful and they feel better by participating in this form of therapy.

SOURCE: American Group Psychotherapy Association. (n.d.). What is group psychotherapy? Retrieved from https://www.groupsinc.org/home/practice-resources/what-is-group-psychotherapy-/.

What kind of time commitment do I need to make?
The time commitment depends on the type of group and the nature and extent of your problems. Short-term groups devoted to concrete issues can last anywhere from 6 to 20 weeks. Support therapy groups (for example, those dealing with a medical illness such as cancer) may be more long-term. There are also more open-ended groups in which members work at their own pace and leave when their particular needs or goals have been met. It’s best to talk with your therapist to determine the length of time that’s right for you.

SOURCE: American Group Psychotherapy Association. (n.d.). What is group psychotherapy? Retrieved from https://www.groupsinc.org/home/practice-resources/what-is-group-psychotherapy-/.

If someone is in a group, do they also need individual therapy?
It depends on the individual. Sometimes group therapy is used as the main or only treatment approach. Sometimes it’s used along with individual therapy. Often people find that working simultaneously in both group and individual therapy stimulates growth in mutually complementary ways. And clients may see two different therapists for individual and group therapies. In such cases, it’s generally considered important for the two therapists to communicate with each other periodically for the client’s benefit. Ask your therapist about the type of therapy that will best meet your needs.

SOURCE: American Group Psychotherapy Association. (n.d.). What is group psychotherapy? Retrieved from https://www.groupsinc.org/home/practice-resources/what-is-group-psychotherapy-/.

How is group psychotherapy different from support groups and self-help groups?
Group therapy focuses on interpersonal relationships and helps individuals learn how to get along better with other people under the guidance of a professional. Group psychotherapy also provides a support network for specific problems or challenges. The psychotherapy group is different from support and self-help groups in that it not only helps people cope with their problems, but also provides for change and growth. Support groups, which are generally led by professionals, help people cope with difficult situations at various times but are usually geared toward alleviating symptoms. Self-help groups usually focus on a particular shared symptom or situation and are usually not led by a trained therapist.

SOURCE: American Group Psychotherapy Association. (n.d.). What is group psychotherapy? Retrieved from https://www.groupsinc.org/home/practice-resources/what-is-group-psychotherapy-/.

What is the difference between an open and closed group?
Open groups are those in which new members can join at any time. Closed groups are those in which all members begin the group at the same time. They may all take part in a 12-week session together, for instance. There are pros and cons of each type. When joining an open group, there may be an adjustment period while getting to know the other group attendees. However, if you want to join a closed group, you may have to wait for several months until a suitable group is available.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2017). Psychotherapy: Understanding group therapy. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/group-therapy.aspx.

What does group psychotherapy cost?
The cost varies depending on the type of therapist and perhaps even the geographic area of the country. Typically, group therapy is about half the price of individual therapy.

SOURCE: American Group Psychotherapy Association. (n.d.). What is group psychotherapy? Retrieved from https://www.groupsinc.org/home/practice-resources/what-is-group-psychotherapy-/.

How do I find a good group psychotherapist?
It’s important to consider the qualifications of a potential therapist. A professional group therapist has received special training in group therapy and meets certain professional standards. That’s where the AGPA can help. Its Clinical Members have received special training in group therapy. In addition, the National Registry of Certified Group Psychotherapists certifies professionals who have met specific training and educational criteria for group therapy as well as ongoing continuing education requirements.

When talking with group therapists, here are four simple questions you may want to ask.

  • What is your background?
  • Given my specific situation, how do you think group would work for me?
  • What are your credentials as a group therapist?
  • Do you have special training that is relevant to my problem?

SOURCE: American Group Psychotherapy Association. (n.d.). What is group psychotherapy? Retrieved from https://www.groupsinc.org/home/practice-resources/what-is-group-psychotherapy-/.

Mind-Body Therapy FAQ
What is mind-body medicine?
Mind-body medicine uses the power of thoughts and emotions to influence physical health. As Hippocrates once wrote, “The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” This is mind/body medicine in a nutshell.

SOURCE: University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Mind-body medicine. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/mindbody-medicine.

What is the history of mind-body medicine?
Most ancient healing practices, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, emphasize the links between the mind and the body. Western medical views were shaped by systems of thought that emphasized the opposite — the mind and body are separate.

In 1964, psychiatrist George Solomon noticed that people with rheumatoid arthritis got worse when they were depressed. He began to investigate the impact emotions had on inflammation and the immune system in general. The new field was called psychoneuroimmunology (“psycho” for psychology; “neuro” for neurology, or nervous system; and “immunology” for immunity).

In the 1960s and early 1970s, a physician named Herbert Benson, who coined the term “relaxation response,” studied how meditation could affect blood pressure. More understanding of the mind-body link came in 1975, when psychologist Robert Ader showed that mental and emotional cues could affect the immune system.

Today, there is renewed interest in age old traditions such as yoga and meditation. No longer viewed with suspicion, mind-body programs are now established at prestigious medical schools in the United States and around the world.

SOURCE: University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Mind-body medicine. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/mindbody-medicine.

What are mind-body techniques?
The key to any mind-body technique is to “train” the mind to focus on the body without distraction. In this state of “focused concentration,” a person may be able to improve their health.

Biofeedback
With biofeedback, people are trained to control certain bodily processes that normally occur involuntarily, such as heart rate or blood pressure. These processes can be measured and displayed on a monitor that the person watches. The monitor provides feedback about the internal workings of your body. You can then use this display to gain control over these “involuntary” activities — lowering your blood pressure, for example. Biofeedback is effective for a number of conditions, but it is most often used to treat tension headache, migraine headache, and chronic pain.

Cognitive behavioral therapy
This technique is used to help people recognize and change harmful thoughts. For example, people with phobias might deliberately expose themselves, under the direction and guidance of a therapist, to what they are afraid of. Or people who are depressed can learn to counter negative thoughts and feelings with positive ones.

Relaxation techniques
There are 3 major types of relaxation techniques:

    Autogenic training: This technique uses both visual imagery and body awareness to create a deep state of relaxation. You imagine a peaceful place and then focus on different physical sensations, moving from your feet to your head. For example, you might focus on feeling that your arms and legs are heavy and warm; on your breath; or on a calm heartbeat.

    Progressive muscle relaxation: This technique involves slowly tensing and then releasing each muscle group in your body, starting with your toes and finishing with your head.

    Meditation: The 2 most popular forms of meditation in the U.S. are transcendental meditation and mindfulness meditation. In transcendental meditation, students repeat a mantra (a single word or phrase). In mindfulness meditation, students focus their attention on their moment by moment thoughts and sensations.

Hypnosis
During hypnosis a person’s body relaxes while their thoughts become more focused and attentive. In this state of deep concentration, some people are highly responsive to a hypnotherapist’s suggestions. Many mental health professionals use hypnosis to treat people with addictions, pain, anxiety disorders, and phobias.

Spirituality
Researchers have been studying how spiritual beliefs, attitudes, and practices affect health. In a recent study on people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), for example, those who had faith in God, compassion toward others, a sense of inner peace, and were religious had a better chance of surviving for a long time with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) than those who did not have such faith or practices. Research suggests that qualities like faith, hope, and forgiveness, and using prayer and social support, have a noticeable effect on health and healing.

SOURCE: University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Mind-body medicine. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/mindbody-medicine.

Does mind-body medicine work?
While phrases such as “mind over matter” have been around for years, only recently have scientists found solid evidence that mind-body techniques actually do fight disease and promote health. In 1989, for example, a clinical study by David Spiegel, M.D. at Stanford University School of Medicine demonstrated the power of the mind to heal. Of 86 women with late stage breast cancer, half received standard medical care while the other half received standard care plus weekly support sessions. In these sessions, the women were able to share both their grief and their triumphs. Spiegel discovered that the women who participated in the social support group lived twice as long as the women who did not. A similar clinical study in 1999 showed that in breast cancer patients, helplessness and hopelessness are associated with lesser chance of survival.

Other clinical studies also show how meditation affects mood and symptoms in people with different conditions (such as high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer). It also improves quality of life.

SOURCE: University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Mind-body medicine. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/mindbody-medicine.

How does mind-body medicine work?
When you are physically or emotionally stressed, your body releases stress hormones that can affect all your systems and organs. For example, stress related to hostility and anxiety can result in disruptions in heart and immune function. Similarly, depression and distress may diminish the body’s natural capacity to heal.

Certain emotions have been associated with disease. For example, hostile attitudes may increase your risk for coronary heart disease, obesity (especially around the waist), insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes), and abnormal cholesterol (specifically, high triglycerides and low levels of high density lipoprotein or HDL — the good kind of cholesterol).

There is no evidence that negative emotions actually cause disease. But research shows that being stressed and having negative emotions can be unhealthy. One study found that unconsciously being defensive or stifling feelings may result in medical consequences, such as high blood pressure. High blood pressure is also associated with feelings of hopelessness. How a person deals with emotions may also affect how long they survive with a chronic illness.

The goal of mind-body techniques is to get the body and mind to relax and to reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body, so that your immune system is better able to fight off illness.

SOURCE: University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Mind-body medicine. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/mindbody-medicine.

What is mind-body medicine good for?
Mind-body techniques can be helpful for many conditions because they encourage relaxation, improve coping skills, reduce tension and pain, and lessen the need for medication. For example, many mind-body techniques are used along with medication to treat pain. Symptoms of anxiety and depression also respond well to mind-body techniques.

Mind-body techniques may help treat many different diseases, including:

  • Cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Pain and nausea/vomiting related to chemotherapy
  • Insomnia
  • Diabetes
  • Stomach and intestinal problems (including indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, heartburn, and Crohn’s disease)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, depression, and irritability
  • Mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression

In an analysis of mind-body studies, researchers found that cognitive behavioral therapy is the most long lasting treatment for tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Relaxation techniques, hypnosis, and biofeedback also helped. Some researchers believe that chronic fatigue syndrome, which affects the immune system, can be treated with mind-body medicine.

SOURCE: University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Mind-body medicine. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/mindbody-medicine.

Is there anything I should watch out for?
Mind-body medicine should not make you feel that your attitude is the cause of your illness.

Mind-body medicine is generally very safe and works well when combined with usual medical care. Each mind-body technique may have its own risks and side effects. Talk with your health care provider about any concerns you may have.

SOURCE: University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Mind-body medicine. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/mindbody-medicine.

Where can I find more information on mind-body medicine?
Biofeedback: Specialists who provide biofeedback training include psychiatrists and psychologists, nurses, dentists, and physicians. The Association for Applied Psychology and Biofeedback is a good resource for finding qualified biofeedback practitioners.

Relaxation: Many clinics and hospitals around the country have included relaxation techniques in their health care programs. Contact the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts for a list of the health care facilities in 38 states that offer information on and training in relaxation techniques.

Hypnosis: Most hypnotherapists are licensed medical doctors, registered nurses, social workers, or family counselors who have received additional training in hypnotherapy. For example, members of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (ASCH) must hold a doctorate in medicine, dentistry, podiatry, or psychology, or a master’s level degree in nursing, social work, psychology, or marital/family therapy with at least 20 hours of ASCH-approved training in hypnotherapy. For a directory of hypnotherapists near you, contact:
The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis
The Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis

SOURCE: University of Maryland Medical Center. (2011). Mind-body medicine. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/mindbody-medicine.

Enneagram FAQ
How can only nine different types describe everyone?
Human beings are wonderful and complex. From ancient times to modern psychology, people have used typologies and diagnostic models to understand themselves and one another. Some systems have 4, 5 or 16 types. With the Enneagram we see nine basic personality types, or character structures, which also are described in psychology. Traditional psychology has focused more on the problems that people face. The Enneagram talks about both the problems and the strengths of each personality type to create a more balanced view, and it brings together these nine basic types in a unified system. There are many ways to describe people, but the Enneagram suggests that there are nine primary ways of seeing the world, and nine major styles in relationship.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

How can people of the same type look and be so different?
The Enneagram describes nine types based on our inner concerns and motivation. We don’t always know someone’s type from external behaviors. Yet there is a common theme among people of the same type, which we can hear on type panels or with type groups, even though there are big variations. For example, every Enneagram type can be either introverted or extroverted. And there are many differences, at least on the surface, which come from our family background and culture. Finally, there are other factors within the Enneagram itself that influence how we express our type. See questions about subtypes, wings, and lines below.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

Don't type labels just put us in a box?
It’s a problem when people use the Enneagram to stereotype, and we don’t want to put people in a box. People are more than their personality. Each person has a unique, essential self that cannot be categorized. But personality falls into predictable patterns, so knowing our Enneagram type helps us to get “out of the box” of our automatic patterns and habits.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

Do people ever change their type? Does our type change as we grow and evolve?
We don’t change our basic type, which is so fundamental to our way of being in the world, but we can change and grow throughout our lives. In this way, our type structure becomes much more flexible. Instead of being stuck in automatic patterns we have more access to our own strengths and abilities, plus we can learn how other types see the world and broaden our own point of view. Our behavior changes as we work on ourselves and evolve.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

I've narrowed it down to two or three possibilities, but can't decide which type I am. How do I decide?
One challenge with the Enneagram is that no questionnaire or test can tell you exactly what type you are. For example, Dr. David Daniels’ Essential Enneagram test gives a result in terms of percentages, based on research and scientific probabilities. Discovering your type requires a process of self-exploration and self-awareness, sometimes aided by feedback from people who know you well. This can take time, but it’s a worthwhile journey. We have parts of different types within us, but we can still look for central theme. Each type has a particular way of seeing the world – a habit of attention – and a specific emotional habit that is different than the other personality types. Identifying these key habits may take time, reflection and more study. We recommend attending a panel workshop to hear all nine types talk about their direct experience. Books are great, but watching type representatives share their stories supports learning not only with the mind, but also the heart and body.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

I think my friend is one type but she thinks she's a different type. How do we figure out which one is right?
We can benefit from feedback from our friends, but ultimately each person has to make their own decision based on knowing oneself from the inside. In the meantime, don’t worry about who is right. Disagreement is common, but eventually the “right” type will emerge over time. What’s important is to stay friendly within the conversation.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

My friend wants me to tell him what type he is. I think it's obvious, but is it okay to tell him?
The Enneagram is a powerful tool for self-discovery. It’s fine to give your opinion, as long as you are clear that it’s an opinion, and he needs to check it out for himself. And make sure that you point out that no type is any better or worse than another, they’re just different! People who have worked with the Enneagram for many years know that even though a person’s type seems obvious to us, we’re not always correct. So it’s best to be careful with our opinions.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

How can I use the Enneagram to help my relationship with my partner?
One of the greatest gifts of the Enneagram is helping us to have better relationships at home and at work. When we understand our own type, we can learn about our patterns of reactivity and how to manage these with self-awareness and practice. This is a huge help! It also shows us how we can become more present and loving in all three of our centers: head, heart and body. When we understand our partner’s type, we realize that they have a different, but equally valid, way of seeing the world, with their own underlying concerns and emotional issues. We don’t take things so personally, and we can work toward feeling deeper empathy with a partner.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

Where did the Enneagram symbol come from? What does it mean?
We don’t know where the symbol came from originally. What we do know is that for thousands of years, scholars and philosophers have used number sets to organize information about people and nature. In many religious traditions, the number nine has been used to signify the different aspects of Divine Presence. Many of the Enneagram’s central ideas can be found in the work of Christian, Sufi and Jewish monastics. The first published Enneagram appears in the writings of Ramon Llull, a Franciscan monk who in 1305 CE used the diagram to describe the nine “Dignities of God,” which we know today as the nine “passions and virtues.”

The modern Enneagram has been developed in the past century by teachers of human development, such as George Gurdjieff, who brought the system and its teaching to Europe, and Oscar Ichazo who created the original map of nine human types. Since the 1970s, the Enneagram has been developed as a modern psychological system by Claudio Naranjo, MD, and other psychologists in California, including Helen Palmer and David Daniels, MD. Loyola University in Chicago also was an early center of Enneagram work, where Catholic clergy and lay people such as Don Riso and Jerome Wagner began learning and teaching. The Enneagram continues to develop through the efforts of many people worldwide who are creating new insights and new applications for personal, spiritual and professional development.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

What are wings?
Around the circle of the Enneagram, we find ourselves between two neighboring points. These are often called the wing points, and they have a strong influence on our own experience. We have both wings, but most people can identify a predominant wing, which is part of our personal style and creates some of the variations between the types. For example, a Type Nine with a strong Eight wing will appear more Eight-like in style (grounded and assertive), while a Nine with a strong One wing may look more like a Type One (organized and correct). However, they still have the basic Type Nine personality structure. The wings can serve as resources to moderate or empower our own type, but also can create their own challenges when we fall into the low side of this neighboring type.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

What do the lines and arrows mean?
The Enneagram seems to hold some intelligence within the diagram itself. We are connected on the inner lines to several other types, and we can move to these types under different conditions. The forward arrows indicate a direction or movement (3-9-6-3, 1-4-2-8-5-7-1) to what is called our “stress point,” which means that under certain kinds of stress, we may find ourselves experiencing more of the feelings and patterns of this other personality type. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; having the experience of this type also can be a resource for us. For example, a Type Six may travel to Three and move more quickly into action; a Type Seven can travel to One and become more focused and organized. But it will be stressful if we stay there too long.

In the other direction (3-6-9-3, 1-7-5-8-2-4-1) we move toward what is called our “security point” or “heart point.” This may happen when we feel safe and secure, as in a close relationship, or when we are engaged in deep personal growth and our type structure relaxes. This is usually a positive experience, allowing us to integrate some of qualities of our security point, which can balance and mediate our own type. But we also may encounter new challenges at this point.

The theory is useful since it describes different states and experiences as we travel to our connection points on the Enneagram, but each person needs to see how this works in their own experience. The patterns are there, but we don’t always fit the pattern completely.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

Why are some points connected on a triangle and the others on a star?
There are two overlapping diagrams inside the Enneagram itself. The triangle connects points 3, 6 and 9. This is called the “Law of Three,” which illustrates three forces present in all actions or events: affirming or initiating force at point 3, resisting or developing force at point 6, harmonizing or reconciling force at point 9. We also can talk about this as thesis, antithesis and synthesis. In religious traditions, we may find this described as the Trinity.

The other internal diagram is a hexad (group of six), which connects the points 1-4-2-8-5-7 with its own flow pattern. This illustrates the “Law of Seven,” indicating the necessary steps for accomplishing tasks or projects, and their interconnections. Some people use the diagram and its two flow patterns for what is called the “Process Enneagram,” which can help organize major projects and systems within an organization. Various books written about the Enneagram explain how it expresses the “natural laws.” In our work with Enneagram types, we are interested in the theories about the symbol and the lines, but are mostly concerned with what is practical and useful for our own personal development.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

What influences how we experience the world beside our type?
There are many influences in addition to our Enneagram type, including our culture, family of origin, body type, and so on. This is why so many differences are found among people who are the same Enneagram type. A basic neurobiological pattern is inherent to each type, but developed further by our early childhood circumstances and the need to adapt to new social environments as we grow older.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

Do some types get along with each other better than other types?
There are predictable patterns for how the types connect well, and how they run into problems. Helen Palmer describes the 45 type combinations in her book, The Enneagram in Love and Work. Some type combinations may have easier relationships at first, but run into problems later. Other types will encounter more difficulties at first, yet establish a better relationship over time by working through conflicts. Is it better to relate to people who are more like us or to people who are different? There are benefits either way. The main point is that every combination of types can do well if we are willing to work on ourselves.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

Are some types better than others?
Sometimes we think our type is best! Or our type is worst… The truth is that every type is wonderful and every type is difficult at times. We are all equal in this way. All nine types are beautiful expressions of the human spirit.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

Will knowing about the Enneagram help me change my type?
The goal is not to change our Enneagram type, but to develop our strengths and talents through self-awareness and personal growth. We all need a personality or ego structure to function in the world. The inner work is to know ourselves at a deeper level where we are more than our personality or ego. For people on a spiritual path, freeing oneself from ego opens the door to a greater presence or connection with the Divine. It’s a big help to know how our ego, or personality type, gets in the way.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

How important are subtypes in my daily life and in relationships?
Very important! Learning about the instinctual subtypes shows us how we use our three major instincts in daily life. Our self-preservation instinct expresses our relationship to material security, food, warmth, home and family. Our social instinct shapes our friendships and our participation in groups and our community. Our one-to one-instinct fuels our personal vitality, sexuality and intimate relationships.

The Enneagram suggests that although we have all three instincts, one of these is more important in determining where we spend much of our time and attention in daily life. Each personality type has three variations, or instinctual subtypes. So there are 27 subtypes that help us understand our path in life: What are the people, places and projects that are most important to us? Where do we invest our time and energy? How do we participate in work, home and the community? What do we need to feel secure? What is the role of instinct and emotion? In our significant relationships, subtype differences (or similarities) can be as important as personality type!

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.

Do many organizations use the Enneagram in their management? If so, how?
It’s impossible to track which organizations use the Enneagram around the world. But the answer is many, and more all the time, from major corporations to small companies and nonprofits. The Enneagram has proven its value for leadership development, communication skills, conflict management and mediation. Knowing your Enneagram type provides specific feedback about how you can develop your practical skills in the workplace. It also helps people reduce unnecessary conflict and build bridges to cooperation and greater effectiveness as a team or work group. An Internet search for the Enneagram in business will show trainers, consultants and coaches in many countries who use the system with managers and leaders.

SOURCE: Enneagram Studies in the Narrative Tradition. (2017). Common Enneagram questions. Retrieved from https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/common-enneagram-questions/.