The therapist who enters the treatment room of Walter Kempler should be prepared to encounter an involved, interested person, to be gently eased or perhaps jolted out of nonfunctional patterns of interaction, to experience intense fellings of anger or sadness or exitement - and to come out as a more effective psychotherapist with both families and individuals. Kempler describes both the theory and the practice of family experiential psychotherapy, an active, ahistoric approach characterized by exploration, experiment, and spontaneity. By working within the framework of the family, by examining the nature of new encounters or interpersonal interactions during the therapy sessions, and by participating fully as a person within the group, the therpist shapes the essential forces toward the basic goal of therapy - the development of properly functioning individuals. While emphasizing the primary role of the theapist as a person, Kempler details those behaviours of individuals, families, and therapists which distract, deter, deflect, divert, dishearten. These behaviors must be interrupted and dealt with in in therapy. He outlines strategies for intervention and illustrates these with short case vignettes and dialogues. Perhaps a once valuable pattern of interaction has outlived its usefulness; perhaps family strenghts evident in the tenacity of family arguments can be redirected toward growth-enhancing behaviors; perhaps a shift in focus will break a marital cycle of anger, withdrawal, and pain. The primary goal of these interventions is to alter behaviour, rather than to promote insight of understanding. To more fully protray the therapuetic process, a family therpy case, comprised of three sessions and one follow-up visit, is presented, with commentary revealing the theapists's thinking and the nonverbal behavior. Refeshing vitality, honesty and clarity characterize Kempler's interactions with families, as well as his presentation of theory and practice. Experiential Psychotherapy Within Families invites family therapists to grow, to change, and to become more skillful at helping families change.
Walter Kempler, M.D., has been a pioneer in the development of family therapy theory and practice. The father of five sons, he was also the Founder and Director of The Kempler Institute for the Development of the Family, which teaches family therapists from throughout the world the principles of experiential family therapy. In addition to lecturing and teaching extensively in the United States, Northern Europe and Scandinavia, he has written over 20 articles and the book Principles of Gestalt Family Therapy.