Advertisement

Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 262–271 | Cite as

Evaluating the Utility of MFT Models in the Treatment of Trauma: Implications for Affect Regulation

  • Alyssa Banford WittingEmail author
  • Jakob Jensen
  • Matthew Brown
Original Paper

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to discuss polyvagal theory as a theoretical foundation for helping clinicians more effectively treat clients who have experienced major trauma. More specifically, we emphasize that through the use of both modern and post-modern models, marriage and family therapists may use emotion regulation strategies to assist clients in overcoming the negative repercussions of traumatic events. We suggest that the nature of emotional arousal which accompanies trauma alters the physical process by which the body regulates future affective stimuli in ways that are potentially detrimental to human relationships. We then offer a discussion of how a selection of MFT models contain strategies that promote reconnection to self and others that should be utilized with greater precision, ultimately to target the physiological symptoms of trauma-altered emotion regulation processes. Finally, we discuss the need for more specific, process-oriented research that integrates cross-disciplinary theory to contribute to a more intricate and useful understanding of the treatment of trauma in the relational context.

Keywords

Affect regulation MFT theory Trauma Family therapy 

References

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  2. Banford, A., Wickrama, T., Brown, M., & Ketring, S. (2011). The relationship between physical health problems and couple violence and conflict in survivors of the 2004 Tsunami: Mediation by marital satisfaction. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 29, 149–170.Google Scholar
  3. Benoit, M., Bouthillier, D., Moss, E., Rousseau, C., & Brunet, A. (2009). Emotion regulation strategies as mediators of the association between level of attachment security and PTSD symptoms following trauma in adulthood. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 23, 101–118. doi: 10.1080/10615800802638279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blank, T. H., Kerpelman, D. M., & Sweezy, M. (2015). Intimacy from the inside out. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Bowlby, J. (1989). The role of attachment in personality development and psychopathology. In S. Greenspan & G. Pollack (Eds.), The course of life: Infancy (pp. 229–270). Madison, WI: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  6. Castonguay, L. G., Pincus, A. L., & McAleavey, A. A. (2015). Practice research network in a psychology training clinic: Building an infrastructure to foster early attachment to the scientific-practitioner model. Psychotherapy Research, 25(1), 52–66. doi: 10.1080/10503307.2013.856045.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Cheon, H., & Murphy, M. J. (2007). The self-of-the-therapist awakened: Postmodern approaches to the use of self in marriage and family therapy. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 19(1), 1–16. doi: 10.1300/J086v19n01_01.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen, L. R., Hein, D., & Batchelder, S. (2008). The impact of cumulative maternal trauma and diagnosis on parenting behavior. Child Maltreatment, 13, 27–38. doi: 10.1177/1077559507310045.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Conklin, C., Bradley, R., & Westen, D. (2006). Affect regulation in borderline personality disorder. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 194, 69–77. doi: 10.1097/01.nmd.0000198138.41709.4f.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Crane, D. R., Wampler, K., Sprenkle, D., Sandberg, J., & Hovestadt, A. (2002). The scientist-practitioner model in marriage and family therapy doctoral programs: Current status. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 28, 75–83. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2002.tb01175.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Cutrona, C. E. (1996). Social support as a determinant of marital quality: The interplay of negative and supportive behaviors. In G. R. Pierce, B. R. Sarason, & I. G. Sarason (Eds.), Handbook of social support and the family (pp. 173–194). New York, NY: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dattilio, F. M. (2013). Cognitive-behavioral therapy with couples and families: A comprehensive guide for clinicians. New York, NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
  13. Dattilio, F. M., Piercy, F., & Davis, S. (2014). The divide between “evidence-based” approaches and practitioners of traditional theories of family therapy. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 40(1), 5–16. doi: 10.1111/jmft.12032.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Diamond, G., Shahar, B., Sabo, D., & Tsvieli, N. (2016). Attachment-based family therapy and emotion-focused therapy for unresolved anger: The role of productive emotional processing. Psychotherapy, 53(1), 34–44. doi: 10.1037/pst0000025.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Faulkner, R., Klock, K., & Gale, J. (2002). Qualitative research in family therapy: Publication trends from 1980 to 1999. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 28, 69–74. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2002.tb01174.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Felmlee, D. H. (2001). No couple is an island: A social network perspective on dyadic stability. Social Forces, 79, 1259–1287. doi: 10.1353/sof.2001.0039.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fiese, B., & Wamboldt, F. (2000). Family routines, rituals, and asthma management: A proposal for family based strategies to increase treatment adherence. Families, Systems, and Health, 18, 405–418. doi: 10.1037/h0091864.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gehart, D. (2014). Mastering competencies in family therapy: A practical approach to theories and clinical case documentation (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  19. Goff, B., Crow, J., Reisbig, A., & Hamilton, S. (2007). The impact of individual trauma symptoms of deployed soldiers on relationship satisfaction. Journal of Family Psychology, 21, 344–353. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.21.3.344.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Gyurak, A., Gross, J., & Etkin, A. (2012). Explicit and implicit emotion regulation: A dual-process framework. Cognition and Emotion, 25, 400–412. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2010.544160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Henry, S. B., Smith, D., Archuleta, K., Sanders-Hahs, E., Nelson Goff, B., Reisbig, A., et al. (2011). Trauma and couples: Mechanisms in dyadic functioning. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 37(3), 319–332. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2010.00203.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Herman, J. (1992). Complex PTSD: A syndrome in survivors of prolonged and repeated trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 5, 377–391. doi: 10.1002/jts.2490050305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, J. B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: A meta-analytic review. PLoS Medicine, 7, e1000316. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. Horigian, V., Robbins, M., & Szapocznik, J. (2004). Brief strategic family therapy. Brief strategic and systemic therapy European review, 1, 251–271. Retreived from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.556.3349&rep=rep1&type=pdf.
  25. Hulley, S., Cummings, S., Browner, W., Grady, D., & Newman, T. (2013). Designing clinical research (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincot, Williams, & Wilkins.Google Scholar
  26. Jenkins, D. (1996). A reflecting team approach to family therapy: A delphi study. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 22, 219–238. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.1996.tb00200.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jensen, J., Rauer, A., & Volling, B. (2013). A dyadic view of support in marriage: The critical role of men’s support provision. Sex Roles, 68, 427–438. doi: 10.1007/s11199-012-0256-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Johnson, S. M. (2003). Introduction to attachment: A therapist’s guide to primary relationships and their renewal. In S. M. Johnson & V. E. Whiffen (Eds.), Attachment processes in couple and family therapy (pp. 3–17). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  29. Johnson, S. M. (2004). The practice of emotionally focused couple therapy: Creating connection (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Johnson, S. M. (2011). The attachment perspective on the bonds of love: A prototype for relationship change. In J. L. Furrow, S. M. Johnson, & B. A. Bradley (Eds.), The emotionally focused casebook: New directions in treating couples (pp. 31–58). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Karademas, E. C. (2011). The impact of emotion regulation and illness-focused coping strategies on the relation of illness-related negative emotions to subjective health. Journal of Health Psychology, 16, 510–519. doi: 10.1177/1359105310392093.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Karam, E. A., Blow, A. J., Sprenkle, D. H., & Davis, S. K. (2015). Strengthening the systemic ties that bind: Integrating common factors into marriage and family therapy curricula. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 41(2), 136–149. doi: 10.1111/jmft.12096.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Kiser, L., Nurse, W., Lucksted, A., & Collins, K. (2008). Understanding the impact of trauma on family life from the viewpoint of female caregivers living in urban poverty. Traumatology, 14, 77–90. doi: 10.1177/1534765608320329.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. Kobak, R., & Hazen, C. (1991). Attachment in marriage: Effects of security and accuracy of working models. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 861–869. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.60.6.861.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Krieger, N. (2001). Theories for social epidemiology in the twenty-first century: An ecosocial perspective. International Journal of Epidemiology, 30, 668–677. doi: 10.1093/ije/30.4.668.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Liddle, H. A., Rodriguez, R. A., Dakof, G. A., Kanzki, E., & Marvel, F. A. (2005). Multidimensional family therapy: A science-based treatment for adolescent drug abuse. In J. Lebow (Ed.), Handbook of clinical family therapy (pp. 128–163). New York: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  37. Macdonald, A. (2011). Solution-focused therapy: Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.Google Scholar
  38. Mikulincer, M., Shaver, P., & Pereg, D. (2003). Attachment theory and affect regulation: The dynamics, development, and cognitive consequences of attachment-related strategies. Motivation and Emotion, 27, 77–102. doi: 10.1023/A:1024515519160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Neimeyer, R., Herrero, O., & Botella, L. (2006). Chaos to coherence: Psychotherapeutic integration of traumatic loss. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 19(2), 127–145. doi: 10.1080/10720530500508738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nichols, M. P. (2012). Family therapy: Concepts and methods (10th ed.). Boston: Pearson.Google Scholar
  41. O’Connell, B. (2005). Solution-focused therapy (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.Google Scholar
  42. O’Donnell, M., Creamer, M., & Pattison, P. (2004). Posttraumatic stress disorder and depression following trauma: Understanding comorbidity. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 8, 1390–1396. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.161.8.1390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Otto, M., Perlman, C., Wernickle, R., Reese, H., Bauer, M., & Pollack, M. (2004). Posttraumatic stress disorder in patients with bipolar disorder: A review of prevalence, correlates, and treatment strategies. Bipolar Disorders, 6, 470–479. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-5618.2004.00151.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Papp, P., & Imber-Black, E. (1996). Family themes: Transmission and transformation. Family Process, 35, 5–20. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.1996.00005.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Perry, B. D., Pollard, R. A., Blaicley, T. L., Baker, W. L., & Vigilante, D. (1995). Childhood trauma, the neurobiology of adaptation, and “use-dependent” development of the brain: How “states” become “traits”. Infant Mental Health Journal, 16, 271–291. doi: 10.1002/1097-0355(199524)16:4<271:AID-IMHJ2280160404>3.0.CO;2-B.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pinsof, W., & Wynne, L. (2000). Toward progress research: Closing the gap between family therapy practice and research. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 26, 1–8. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2000.tb00270.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Porges, S. W. (2001). The polyvagal theory: Phylogenetic substrates of a social nervous system. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 42, 123–146. doi: 10.1016/S0167-8760(01)00162-3.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Porges, S. W. (2011). The polyvagal theory: Neurophysiological foundations of emotions, attachment, communication, and sefl-regulation (Norton series on interpersonal neurobiology (1st ed.). New York, NY: Norton.Google Scholar
  49. Resick, P. (2001). Stress and trauma. East Sussex: Psychology Press Ltd.Google Scholar
  50. Sandberg, J., Johnson, L., Robila, M., & Miller, R. (2002). Clinician identified barriers to clinical research. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 28, 61–67. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2002.tb01173.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Sandberg, D. A., Suess, E. A., & Heaton, J. L. (2010). Attachment anxiety as a mediator of the relationship between interpersonal trauma and posttraumatic symptomatology among college women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25, 33–49. doi: 10.1177/0886260508329126.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Sarason, I. G., & Sarason, B. R. (2009). Social support: Mapping the construct. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26, 113–120. doi: 10.1177/0265407509105526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Satir, V. (1988). The new peoplemaking. Mountain View, CA: Science and Behavior Books Inc.Google Scholar
  54. Sawyer, K. (2007). Group genius: The creative power of collaboration. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  55. Schore, A. (1999). Affect regulation and the origin of the self: The neurobiology of emotional development. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates Inc.Google Scholar
  56. Schwartz, R. C. (1995). Internal family systems therapy. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  57. Schwartz, R. C. (2001). Introduction to the internal family systems model. Oak Park, IL: Trailheads publication.Google Scholar
  58. Schwartz, R. C. (2008). You are the one you have been waiting for: bringing courageous love to intimate relationships. Oak Park, IL: Trailheads.Google Scholar
  59. Sprenkle, D. H., Davis, S. D., & Lebow, J. L. (2009). Common factors in couple and family therapy: The overlooked foundation for effective practice. New York, NY: Guilford.Google Scholar
  60. van der Kolk, B. A. (2006). Clinical implications of neuroscience research in PTSD. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1071, 277–293. doi: 10.1196/annals.1364.022.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. White, M. (1993). Deconstruction and therapy. New York, NY: Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  62. White, M. (2007). Maps of narrative practice. New York, NY: Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  63. Williams, L., Patterson, J., & Miller, R. (2006). Panning for gold: A clinician’s guide to using research. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 32, 17–32. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2006.tb01585.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Zohar, J., Fostick, L., Cohen, A., Bleich, A., Dolfin, D., Weissman, Z., Doron, M., Kaplan, Z., Klein, E., & Shalev, A.Y. (2009). Risk factors for the development of posttraumatic stress disorder following combat trauma: A semiprospective study. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 70, 1629–1635. Retreived from http://www.ariel.ac.il/images/stories/site/projects/APL/Papers/Risk_factors_paper_New_version_3AUG08.pdf.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alyssa Banford Witting
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jakob Jensen
    • 2
  • Matthew Brown
    • 3
  1. 1.Alliant International UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.East Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  3. 3.University of Houston—Clear LakeHoustonUSA

Personalised recommendations