Redecision Therapy

This therapy, not frequently known, a psychotherapy method, was developed by a social worker, Mary McClure Goulding, and her deceased psychiatrist husband, Robert Goulding, in the 1970s.

Redecision therapy (Goulding & Goulding, 1979, 1989) is an integration of Eric Berne’s transactional analysis and Fritz Perl’s gestalt therapy. Transactional analysis views early emotional learning (childhood decisions) within the context of a child’s response to parental injunctions.

Parental injunctions are subtle parental verbal and nonverbal messages (e.g. don’t be you, do, don’t think, don’t feel, don’t belong, don’t be competent, don’t be smart, etc). Children respond in emotion and then form decisions (holistic assessments of self in interaction) (e.g. I am powerless, I am not good enough, I don’t deserve to live, I am not lovable, I can’t trust, etc.), which they carry with them well into adulthood.

These same decisions and assessments of life often evolve in response to later adult traumas as the following assessments of self in interaction: I am unsafe. I am in pain. I am not in control. Assessments of self become the adult’s later working model and shape the adult’s later responses to their environment without awareness (manifested in ongoing adult scripts).

The redecision method helps the therapist to identify these assessments of self in interaction in the present and to look for present symbols that represent these decisions and the emotion underlying them. After the therapist can identify specific assessments of self in interaction, the therapist then asks the patient to reflect back in time when that specific assessment of self in interaction was experienced before. The therapist asks this over and over again to bring the patient back in time. After sufficient conscious age regression, the therapist then asks the patient to reflect on the many different feelings (of fear, sadness, anger, guilt, etc.) relating to the relationship or painful event.

The patient is encouraged to talk to the source (person or event) in the empty chair (gestalt therapy of Fritz Perl) or any venue that would encourage the patient to talk to the source as if he/she were in the room in the present tense. This helps the patient to process material that had not been completely processed previously. After this material is re-experienced and processed, therapist guides the patient to make a new assessment of self in interaction (a redecision)…(i.e. I have control, I am good enough, I am fine, I am safe).

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