Category Archives: About Sofia

Systems Therapy: Change One Thing, Change Everything

By Pierre Araman

What is Systems Therapy?

Systems therapy aims to help each member of a group gain insight on their role as well as on the role of their peers in order to maximize the healthy functionality of the whole. Systems therapy can be utilized with families, couples, communities, or organizations so as to resolve conflicts and/or other relational issues.

The theory behind Systems Therapy is based on the idea that the environment (in this particular case family and/or community) is primordial for the psychological health and recovery of clients. Changes made to one component of the environment can affect the whole system for the better or for the worse depending on the system.

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A famous branch of Systems therapy is known as Family systems theory which was developed by Dr. Murray Bowen in the late 1960s. In Family systems therapy, participants are encouraged to be themselves in order for the therapist as well as other members of the family to see the cause and effect of certain behaviors. When the negative behaviors have been identified, participants can realize the impacts they may have on the system and modify the negative behaviors into healthy behaviors for the benefit of the entire family as well as for themselves.

Other forms of family therapy branching from Bowen’s Family systems theory and that you may have heard of are: Intergenerational family therapy, Structural family therapy, and Strategic family therapy. If you would like to learn more about these therapies, click on the images below.

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Dr. Murray Bowen developed eight concepts which can be identified and worked on during Family therapy. The concepts are:

  • Emotional Cutoff – When a member distances themselves emotionally/physically from their family in order to reduce stress/tension.
  • Family Projection Process – When parents’ issues are transferred unto the child/children. Common issues are emotional concerns, anxiety, and relationship difficulties.
  • Nuclear Family Emotional Process – Four areas identified by Bowen where families tend to have the most difficulties: problematic behaviors, impaired functionality in children, intimate partner conflict, and emotional distance.
  • Differentiation of Self – Bowen’s core concept – The ability of a person to differentiate themselves from their family in order to achieve their life goals. A low level of differentiation means that the person has difficulties maintaining individuality and can experience emotional fusion with others. A high level of differentiation means that the person can maintain healthy emotional contacts with the group while keeping their individuality.
  • Sibling position – The belief that the youngest, middle, and oldest children have specific roles within the family system due to different factors such as discipline, expectations, etc
  • Emotional Triangle – When anxiety is introduced to a dyad, a third person is used as a resource to reduce the anxiety. It is common for emotional triangle to become unhealthy as two sides are in harmony and one in conflict. An example of an emotional triangle would be a child included in a parental dispute.
  • Societal Emotional Process – When instability is present within the emotional system of society, it can reverberate and have a negative impact on the emotional system of the family (e.g. natural catastrophe, periods of regression, etc).
  • Multigenerational Transmission Process – Bowen’s belief that individuals seek partners with the same level of differentiation which is then passed on to their children. When the level of differentiation is increased, the pattern can be broken and as a result, increase the level of differentiation of the next generations.

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-10-46-40-amOverall, Family system therapy can be overwhelming although extremely rewarding. Once the system has been reorganized, it benefits the whole. The role of Systems therapist is to identify concepts described above and to modify the unhealthy behaviors into positive and rewarding attitudes. The process can be short or lengthily depending on the resilience of the members of the system.

If you would like to learn more about Systems therapy, here are two research papers on the effectiveness of family and relationship therapy:

 Systems Therapy at Sofia University

If Systems therapy interests you and you would like to learn more and to gain some experience within that field, Sofia University offers the unique experience of participating in group therapy with your cohort as well as covering the different theories in class. Check out our Masters in Counseling Psychology program which incorporates interactive learning through role play, giving you the tools necessary to carry you through different systems therapies such as family therapy, couple therapy, group therapy, and more!

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What is Psychodynamic Therapy?

By Pierre Araman

Psychodynamic theory is a school of depth psychology encompassing the theories and ideas of famous psychologists and psychiatrists such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, Erik Erikson.

Psychodynamic therapy focuses on accessing information hidden in the unconscious and utilizing different techniques to reduce psychic tensions. Principally, psychodynamic therapists concentrate on clients’ past relationships as well as the therapeutic alliance (the relationship between the client and the therapist) so as to uncover unresolved conflicts.

One theory is that childhood traumas can negatively impact present relationships and can lead people to develop unhealthy defense mechanisms, which are unconscious systems developed by a person’s ego to protect themselves against anxiety. Some of the most common defense mechanisms are denial (refusal to admit external reality/events), rationalization (inaccurate reasons to explain behavior), and projection (projecting personal negative traits onto others). By working through the defenses and restructuring the core of the psychopathology, psychodynamic therapists help clients cultivate better self-understanding and develop more accurate views of reality.

Techniques Used in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Psychodynamic therapists use different tools to access a client’s unconscious such as free association, transference / counter-transference, dreams interpretations, and insights from the client and the therapist.

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  • Free associations are spontaneous and unconscious mental connections made by the brain. They are usually insightful and help therapists determine unconscious views of clients. In other words, the therapist says a word and the client says whatever comes to mind without thinking.
  • Transference and counter-transference refer to negative and/or positive personality traits that are projected onto the therapist by the client and vice versa. For example, a client might say that the therapist reminds them of a parent or a persecutor. Another example would be a therapist referring a client to a colleague because the client reminds them of their child or they are being triggered in some way.
  • Dream analysis speaks for itself. Some themes are recurrent while other require deeper personal interpretation/analysis by the client and/or therapist. Different interpretative tools can be used such as intuition/insights, mythology, metaphor, etc.
  • The therapeutic alliance is one of the most important interventions of psychodynamic psychotherapy. Therapists focus on their relationship with the client to determine the impact it may have on therapy. Some questions considered by a therapist might be: “Would the client be ready to hear this at this time? Does the client feel safe? Is there enough trust to inquire about a certain topic? etc.”
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy also has its own diagnostic manual called the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM). Besides sharing a similar name with the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM), the DSM describes observable symptoms and the PDM outlines subjective experiences.

For more information on this particular form of psychotherapy, here is a preview from a book by Richard F. Summers & Jacques P. Barber (2010) named “Psychodynamic Therapy: A Guide to Evidence-Based Practice, as well as other resources.

Psychodynamic Therapy has been found through research to be effective. A study conducted by Jonathan Shedler (2010) called “The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy” states that clients “maintain therapeutic gains and appear to continue to improve after treatment ends”.

Psychodynamic therapy and Clinical Programs at Sofia University

Psychodynamic therapy is explored and practiced in different classes such as “History and Systems of Psychology”, “Psychotherapy Theory and Interventions”, “Clinical Practicum”, and more. We are currently covering this theory in my “Transpersonal Theory & Literature” class as well as practicing the different interventions through role playing with other students. Whether you are interested in the PsyD, PhD, or Master’s program; you will have access to in-depth experiences and knowledge of the theory at Sofia University.

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Humanistic Therapy: The Healing Power of Empathy

by Pierre Araman

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What is Humanistic Therapy?

Humanism is the study of an individual as a whole being. It is a perspective of psychology that looks at humans as innately ‘good’. Clients are considered experts on their own lives and thus, humanistic therapists do not psychoanalyze or judge. Instead, they focus on empathy through a non-directive approach that facilitates connection between client and therapist.

The goal of humanistic therapy is to focus on growth and self-actualization (self-development) and to help clients identify their strengths in the present moment. There are various types of humanistic therapies such as Gestalt, Psychosynthesis, and Solution-focused therapy, to name a few. One of the most famous humanistic therapy practices is called Client-centered therapy or Rogerian psychotherapy.

Client-centered therapy was developed by Carl Rogers in the 1950s from the perspective that people organically develop towards their full potential over time. However, life experiences such as trauma and accidents distort and/or block the drive to fulfill one’s potential.

Some life experiences are called ‘conditions of worth’. These occur when we evaluate our own experiences through the values and beliefs of others instead of ourselves. Many people do this by discounting their own experiences in order to receive conditional positive regard or acceptance from others. As a result, a Social Self and a True Self are created. The Social Self is a self-concept based largely on the expectations of others and the True Self is a self-concept based on our actual feelings about our experiences. In order for the Self’s to be congruent with one another, Rogerian therapists focus on cultivating unconditional positive regard for their clients.

Techniques used in Client-Centered therapy:

Since each client is considered unique and are considered the expert on their own lives, there are no specific techniques used in Rogerian psychotherapy. Rogerian therapists instead offer their unconditional positive regard, empathy, and skillful non-directive reflections in order to help their clients reach their full potential.

Here is a video of Carl Rogers practicing Client-Centered therapy. As you watch the video, you can see that he does not judge nor direct the client in any particular way:

Here are additional resources if you are interested to learn more about Carl Rogers or about humanistic therapies:

Here are also two studies demonstrating the effectiveness of Person-Centered Therapies:

Humanistic Therapy at Sofia University

The Master of Arts in Counseling program at Sofia University introduces the tenets and practices of Humanistic theory. The competent and compassionate faculty at Sofia University provide great insight into this theory and help students learn how to apply these skills in their work with clients. Classes such as “Critical Thinking in Clinical Psychology”, “History and Systems of Psychology”, “Psychotherapy theory and Interventions” are just a few of the classes that may introduce you to this type of work.

Special thanks to Dr. Sersecion’s lecture on Humanistic Psychology.

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Can your personality tell you which school to choose?

Finding the right university can be a difficult prospect. Should you choose based on location? Prestige? Scholarship potential? Your ability to get in?

What if choosing your next university was more like a calling? What if the best university for you is the one that best matches your personality traits?

Every university has its audience. Like a magnet, a school can grab your attention based on your subconscious desires you may not even know were important to you. The fastest way to uncovering the best school for you is through the art of introspection: diving into the deeper essences of who you are to discover your desires. Once you know more about yourself, try to match that with the university.

So what is ‘personality’?

 

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Miriam Webster offers these synonyms: disposition, temperament, temper, character, and personality mean the dominant quality or qualities distinguishing a person or group. Disposition implies customary moods and an attitude toward the life around one <a cheerful disposition>.
Temperament implies a pattern of innate characteristics associated with one’s specific physical and nervous organization <an artistic temperament>.
Temper implies the qualities acquired through experience that determine how a person or group meets difficulties or handles situations <a resilient temper>.
Character applies to the aggregate of moral qualities by which a person is judged apart from intelligence, competence, or special talents <strength of character>.
And personality applies to an aggregate of qualities that distinguish one as a person <a somber personality>.

What are archetypes and how can knowing them help you understand yourself?

Wikipedia considers several types of archetypes. One way to look at them is as statements, patterns of behavior, or prototypes (models) which other statements, patterns of behavior, and objects copy or emulate. Another way to see them is as collectively-inherited unconscious ideas, patterns of thought, images, etc., that are universally present in individual psyches, such as is described in Jungian psychology.

When a person recognizes an archetype that plays out in their own behavior or personality, the person is better able to make decisions that matches with their own desires or inclinations.

Sofia University seems to attract a variety of different archetypes in our student, staff and faculty bodies. Read below for insight into the archetypes that resonate with our community and see if one or more fit you.

Then visit our website to learn more about our degree programs. Once you find a program that matches your archetype, contact our Admissions team for more information at admissions@sofia.edu or 1-650-493-4430.

 

Eight Personality Archetypes

Sofia University has always attracted those who connect with the following archetypes : Sage, Advocate, Caregiver, Visionary, Rebel, Creative, Spiritual, Performer.

 

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SAGE/INTELLECTUAL

What makes the energy of the Sage a match to the Sofia archetype is our focus on wisdom that comes from three sources – mind, body, and spirit.

We connect with the body’s wisdom through somatic psychology and aikido practices, harnessing the knowledge of deep consciousness through the participatory connection of mind, body, and spirit. Together with an intellectual desire for academic rigor, we provide a solid, holistic foundation of our university.

Check out this article on the Sage/Intellectual Archetype to see if it’s a match for you!

 

ADVOCATE

The Advocate archetype – often defined by a desire to work towards a cause that may bring Screen Shot 2016-10-31 at 4.37.04 PM.pngabout change in the world. Sofia University activates the advocate archetype by fighting for a psychology that incorporates balanced, body, mind and spirit whole person education. Just watch Bob Frager share his reasons for founding the school.

Now ask yourself, what is your deepest passion? What in your life or world triggers you to action? This could be where your advocate personality kicks in.  Our programs are a great fit for individuals who identify with the Advocate Archetype.

Check out this article on the Advocate Archetype and see if it’s a match for you! You can also view this sample report for a more detailed description about this archetype.

CAREGIVER

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-10-40-47-amThe Caregiver – often defined by a willingness to help others by providing support, guidance, and unconditional love and compassion.

Caregivers value connection and relationships and make great therapists, counselors, and educators. Our programs are a great fit for individuals who identify with the Caregiver Archetype.

Check out this article on the Caregiver Archetype and see if it’s a match for you! You can also look at this sample report to see if the description fits.

 

VISIONARY

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-3-32-50-pmVisionaries see possibilities and solutions where others see problems. Our programs are a great fit for individuals who identify with the Visionary Archetype.

As a pioneer in transpersonal psychology, we too envisioned new possibilities for humanity that are finally taking root in the mainstream with the focus on mindfulness and conscious business and technology.

Check out this article on the Visionary archetype and see if it’s a match for you!

 

imgresREBEL

The Rebel energy – often defined by a willingness to step outside the box and a refusal to be defined by conventional and traditional beliefs. Rebels are change-makers and are willing to go the extra mile to inspire and revolutionize old ideas, theories, and behaviors. This university has never allowed other fields of psychology to define us.

With 41 years under our belt in the study and research of transpersonal psychology, the school has succeeded in producing stellar scholars who investigate and research topics other schools may not see as valuable. Our dissertation faculty specialize in the different. Check out the list.

Our programs are a great fit for individuals who identify with the Rebel Archetype.

Check out this article on the Rebel Archetype and see if it’s a match for you!

CREATIVE

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-4-48-19-pmThe Creative energy – often introverted and original and seeking self-expression.

Creatives consider life their canvas, and are both sensitive to and inspired by the world around them. Our programs are a great fit for individuals who identify with the Creative Archetype.

Check out this article on the Creative Archetype and see if it’s a match for you!

 

SPIRITUAL

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-27-12-pmThe Spiritual archetype – often defined by a strong desire to seek the truth, find meaning in life, and connect with something greater than themselves.Our programs are a great fit for individuals who identify with the Spiritual Archetype because of our focus on transpersonal psychology, which aims to better understand the spiritual aspect of the human experience.

Check out this article on the Spiritual Archetype and see if it’s a match for you! You can also check out this sample report for a more detailed description about this archetype.

 

 

PERFORMER

The Performer archetype – often defined by a confident attitude, and entertaining attitude.

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Performers enjoy attention and love to stand out in the crowd. Our programs are a great fit for individuals who identify with the Performer Archetype because of our small, inclusive classes that allow students to share center-stage with their classmates. We also have a strong Creative Expression concentration that can support your artistic and creative flair as you move through any degree program.

Check out this article on the Performer Archetype and see if it’s a match for you! You can also read the sample report for more detailed descriptions on this archetype.

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Embracing the Spiritual – Sofia University Archetype #7

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-26-22-pmEvery university has its audience. Like a magnet, a school can grab your attention based on your subconscious desires you may not even know were important to you.

Sofia University has always attracted those who connect with the Spiritual archetype – often defined by a strong desire to seek the truth, find meaning in life, and connect with something greater than themselves.

Our programs are a great fit for individuals who identify with the Spiritual Archetype because of our focus on transpersonal psychology, which aims to better understand the spiritual aspect of the human experience.

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Check out this article on the Spiritual Archetype and see if it’s a match for you! You can also check out this sample report for a more detailed description about this archetype.

Then visit our website to learn more about our degree programs. Once you find a program that matches your archetype, contact our Admissions team for more information at admissions@sofia.edu or 1-888-98-SOFIA.

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Embracing the Performer – Sofia University Archetype #6

Every university has its audience. Like a magnet, a school can grab your attention based on your subconscious desires you may not even know were important to you.

Sofia University has always attracted those who connect with the Performer archetype – often defined by a confident attitude, and entertaining attitude.

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Performers enjoy attention and love to stand out in the crowd. Our programs are a great fit for individuals who identify with the Performer Archetype because of our small, inclusive classes that allow students to share center-stage with their classmates.

 

Check out this article on the Performer Archetype and see if it’s a match for you! You can also read the sample report for more detailed descriptions on this archetype.

Then visit our website to learn more about our degree programs. Once you find a program that matches your archetype, contact our Admissions team for more information at admissions@sofia.edu or 1-888-98-SOFIA.

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Embracing the Caregiver – Sofia University Archetype #5

Every university has its audience. Like a magnet, a school can grab your attention based on your subconscious desires you may not even know were important to you.

Sofia University has always attracted those who connect with the Caregiver – often defined by a willingness to help others by providing support, guidance, and unconditional love and compassion.

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Caregivers value connection and relationships and make great therapists, counselors, and educators. Our programs are a great fit for individuals who identify with the Caregiver Archetype.

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Check out this article on the Caregiver Archetype and see if it’s a match for you! You can also look at this sample report to see if the description fits.

Then visit our website to learn more about our degree programs. Once you find a program that matches your archetype, contact our Admissions team for more information at admissions@sofia.edu or 1-888-98-SOFIA.

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Embracing the Creative – Sofia University Archetype #4

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-4-47-39-pmEvery university has its audience. Like a magnet, a school can grab your attention based on your subconscious desires you may not even know were important to you.

Sofia University has always attracted those who connect with the Creative energy – often introverted and original and seeking self-expression.

Creatives consider life their canvas, and are both sensitive to and inspired by the world around them. Our programs are a great fit for individuals who identify with the Creative Archetype.

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Check out this article on the Creative Archetype and see if it’s a match for you!

Then visit our website to learn more about our degree programs.Once you find a program that matches your archetype, contact our Admissions team for more information at admissions@sofia.edu or 1-888-98-SOFIA.

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Embracing the Sage/Intellectual- Sofia University Archetype #3

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Every university has its audience. Like a magnet, a school can grab your attention based on subconscious desires you may not even know were important.

Sofia University has always attracted those who connect with the Sage/Intellectual. What makes the energy of the Sage a match to the Sofia archetype is our focus on wisdom that comes from three sources – mind, body, and spirit.

We connect with the body’s wisdom through somatic psychology and aikido practices, harnessing the knowledge of deep consciousness through the participatory connection of mind, body, and spirit. Together with an intellectual desire for academic rigor, we provide a solid, holistic foundation of our university.

Check out this article on the Sage/Intellectual Archetype to see if it’s a match for you! images (1).jpg

Then visit our website to learn more about our degree programs. Once you find a program that matches your archetype, contact our Admissions team for more information at admissions@sofia.edu or 1-888-98-SOFIA.

 

 

{Images Courtesy of  open-stand.org & www.globaleconomicgovernance.org }

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Embracing the Visionary – Sofia University Archetype #2

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Every university has its audience. Like a magnet, a school can grab your attention based on subconscious desires you may not even know were important.

Sofia University has always attracted those who connect with the Visionary energy. Visionaries see possibilities and solutions where others see problems. Our programs are a great fit for individuals who identify with the Visionary Archetype.

As a pioneer in transpersonal psychology, we too envisioned new possibilities for humanity that are finally taking root in the mainstream with the focus on mindfulness and conscious business and technology.

Check out this article on the Visionary archetype and see if it’s a match for you!

Then visit our website to learn more about our degree programs. Once you find a program that matches your archetype, contact our Admissions team for more information at admissions@sofia.edu or 1-888-98-SOFIA.

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Images Courtesy of:  tomasbisono.com & www.horriblelogos.com 

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