The Developmental Process Work Training presents a relational, non-diseasing clinical model for healing developmental shock, trauma and stress in individuals, couples and families. Developmental Process Work (DPW) helps clients clear developmental trauma from their early childhood that interferes with people’s ability to experience intimacy and evolve psychologically personally and in their couple and family relationships.
As a therapeutic practice, DPW emphasizes the significance of the therapist- client relationship, which creates a safe environment where clients can reprocess developmental trauma and eliminate its adverse effects from their lives. In this therapeutic crucible, clients are able to identify their unhealed developmental traumas, complete any essential developmental processes remaining from childhood and experience the emotional resonance of a healthy, conscious relationship.
Why DPW is Effective
DPW is highly effective because those who practice it have done their own healing work. Taught as a “heal yourself before you heal others” modality, DPW therapists “know” both theoretically and intuitively how to help others. DPW practitioners use a systems approach to counsel individuals, couples and families, and have mastered unique skills and information that most therapists do not get in their graduate and doctoral training programs.
Many therapist-training programs tend to emphasize a specific theoretical approach and its interventions for producing the predicted outcomes typical of that approach. They tend to spend less time helping practitioners-in-training learn how to build warm, compassionate relationships and to instill hope in their clients. They also tend to focus more on treating the client’s presenting symptoms than on identifying and treating core issues.
According to Rosenfeld in his recent book, Beyond Evidence-Based Psychotherapy (2008), the past fifty years psychotherapy outcome research has consistently identified the common skills that predict clinical success. They include:
- the ability to form a warm, compassionate therapeutic relationship (30 percent of the variance),
- a deep understanding of clients symptoms and the ability to treat the client’s core issues (40 percent of the variance),
- the placebo effects, which include how much the client expects to get helped regardless of the approach the therapist uses (15 percent of the variance) and finally
- the specific theoretical treatment approach utilized by the therapist (15 percent of the variance).
Our Developmental-Constructivistic Approach
While our DPW emphasizes the common skills identified above, we train using a developmental-constructivistic model of teaching and learning. This model emphasizes the importance of trainees personal learning styles and the prior life and professional experiences that they bring with them, as they determine how they integrate and use our training. DPW also emphasizes the importance of having trainees understand and heal themselves before working professionally with clients.
Our “do it to yourself first” approach is the primary goal of our training program. This focus helps practitioners-in-training from carrying countertransference issues into their practices that might interfere with their effectiveness. In addition to providing a personal focus to the training content and structure, we urge trainees to seek additional therapy as an adjunct to their training.
Research shows that these factors contribute to successful outcomes in individual and couple counseling:
- the therapist’s theoretical orientation and techniques,
- client characteristics such as the strengths and weaknesses and developmental stage of the client,
- the quality of the therapeutic relationship,
- the therapist’s personal and interpersonal characteristics,
- past treatment experiences of the client,
extra-therapeutic forces such as social, economic, family and cultural forces in the life of the client, and
- the placebo effects produced by the motivation of the client and the faith he/she has in the therapist.
Our DPW practitioner-training programs emphasizes this integration by first helping them learn how to build a healing relationship with clients that is based on mutual respect, mutual trust mutual hope, and on clients beliefs about what causes change, rather than the therapist’s theory of change.
Then they learn how to identify the incomplete essential developmental processes that clients bring to therapy to complete. These processes are visible in clients relational patterns, beliefs and values. Trainees also learn a wide variety of effective therapeutic interventions drawn from the spectrum of psychological theories.
DPW trainees also learn to identify the appropriate clinical interventions for the unique social, economic and cultural frameworks that clients brings to the therapeutic relationship. This approach is far different from the current medical model of therapy where contemporary political and economic forces have defined healing as primarily a short-term, therapist-directed process performed on compliant patients regardless of their unique personal characteristics or history.
Our Client-Centered Approach
In contrast, DPW is a client-directed approach in which the therapist honors and follows the client’s unique healing process. In this approach, the therapist intervenes only with the client’s consent.
DPW can be a short-term process if therapists are skilled at building a resonant field with the client that creates a trusting therapeutic relationship. This relationship requires clients permission to address the core developmental issues where the healing must occur.
Timing is everything when intervening with clients. DPW trained therapists are trained to avoid hurrying the therapeutic process because it causes resistance in the client that disrupts the healing process. Instead, DPW therapists honor the rightness and timing of the client’s process. If done well, clients almost invite the interventions that will produce the most healing.
The Diagnosis is the Prescription
In DPW, the diagnosis of the problem becomes the prescription. That is, the very act of defining clients developmentally-sourced issues simultaneously creates the solutions for addressing them. For example, diagnosing someone with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder indicates the need for trauma-elimination therapies that stabilize the over-stimulated sympathetic nervous system and diminish symptoms such as re-experiencing and re-enacting. Our clinical approach also circumvents the medical model and all the diseasing and disempowering stigmas associated with it.
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Hamer, R. (2000). Summary of The new medicine. Switzerland: Knautsch Publishing House.
Rosenfeld, G. (2008). Beyond evidence-based psychotherapy. New York: Routledge.
Weinhold, J. & Weinhold, B. (2010). Healing developmental trauma: A systems approach to counseling individuals, couples and families. Denver: CO, Love Publishing Co.