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Redecision Therapy: What It Is and How It’s Used

By: Steve Gainey, MA, LLP, ADS, CAADC, EAC Clinical Specialist – Redecision therapy was developed in 1965 by Mary Goulding, psychotherapist, and her husband psychiatrist, Bob Goulding. It combines the theoretical framework of Transactional Analysis (see my previous blog post) with the intervention techniques of Gestalt therapy. The Goulding’s sought to create a modality that was brief and effective, so they decided to use a combination of both theory’s and added their own.

I was first introduced to these theories in a three-year psychotherapy training many years ago. The Goulding’s believed that therapists needed to do their own “work” to learn the theory, not just be taught how to use the theory with clients. It was also thought that therapists needed to get “rid of” and be aware of any issues of their own, so those issues would not interfere when working with a client.

The ultimate goal of redecision therapy is a review of all the choices and decisions made (in childhood) that might have influence on a current problematic situation.

In my approach when working with clients, I utilize all the theories taught in my previous trainings.  First, I begin with conducting a full mental health assessment, in which I use a script analysis to better understand what messages the person carries forward from their childhood.  I then work with the individual to determine which messages are false, no longer needed, or are harmful. Then, the person can create their true messages and beliefs.

It is my belief that our issues are not just in our minds, they are held within our bodies.  Thus, using only thinking will not result in lasting change.

Often, individuals tell me that they have been in therapy before, read self-help books and know what is wrong, but they are back to the same old way of thinking.  My response is usually this:  there is above the neck therapy and below the neck therapy. Above does not always create lasting change.

There are many techniques used in redecision therapy to shift the redecision with something that is experiential and powerful, so it can be felt in the body, not just the head.

Some examples of redecision therapy techniques include the following:

The Empty Chair: This can be used in several ways. One way is to have the individual have a dialogue with the conflict they are experiencing by dividing it into two parts.

Early Scene Work: An individual replays a scene from their childhood where the negative message was created and then the individual has the “child” make a redecison at the stage it was first remembered.

The Parent Interview: The therapist asks the individual to impersonate their parent.

Standing: This technique puts the individual into a grounded stance when making a redecision. For example, if the individual has an internal script of, “I need to get approval from one person or everyone”, I have them practice sitting in a chair and state “I WOULD LIKE YOUR APPROVAL, BUT I DO NOT NEED IT.”

To summarize, redecision therapy is finding scripts (decisions) made in childhood and understanding how they affect an individual in the present, then using experiential techniques to make lasting changes.

If you are interested in learning more about redecision therapy or have a life issue that you would like some guidance with, contact EAC.  We’re here to help!

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