A conceptual framework for symbolic-experiential therapy: Extension of the apprenticeship model

Tammy Jo Mitten, Purdue University


The purpose of the study was to identify the core variables of symbolic-experiential therapy. A conceptual framework which reflects the domain of symbolic-experiential therapy was inductively derived, through grounded theory methods, based on an extensive review of the literature, intensive observation of videotapes illustrating Dr. Whitaker's work and expert interviews. In phase one of the study, open coding was used to identify as many symbolic interventions as possible. In phase two, axial coding was used to categorize interventions and make connections between them. In phase three, selective coding was used to tell the story of symbolic-experiential therapy. The following six core treatment variables emerged from the data: (1) Generating an interpersonal set; (2) Creating a suprasystem which includes the therapist and the family; (3) Stimulating a symbolic context; (4) Activating stress within the system; (5) Creating symbolic experience through associative communication; (6) Moving out of the system. Based on the findings, a theory of symbolic change can be formulated. ^




Major Professor: Fred P. Piercy, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Sociology, Theory and Methods|Education, Guidance and Counseling|Psychology, Clinical

Off-Campus Purdue Users:
To access this dissertation, please log in to our
proxy server