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Alex A. Gomez: Public Lecture & Dissertation Defense

June 22, 2018 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm PDT

Environmental studies class outside taking data from streets of LA

This event is open to the public:


Feelings of Enlightenment: A Hermeneutic Interpretation of Latent Enlightenment, Assumptions in Greenberg’s Emotion-Focused Therapy


The purpose of this dissertation was to explore how mainstream theories of psychotherapy might inadvertently conceal and overlook contemporary values and ideologies and their pathological consequences. Through a hermeneutic approach, I interpreted Leslie Greenberg’sEmotion-Focused Therapy: Coaching Clients to Work Through Their Feelings(2nd ed), a popular and widely used theory in psychotherapy. As a practitioner with humanistic foundations, this study was an opportunity for me to understand my own unexamined values as a therapist. I situated EFT within the context of Enlightenment philosophy and interpreted specific EFT constructs. EFT encapsulates Enlightenment values while, simultaneously, obscuring these values within a scientific framework. I speculated that this unacknowledged entanglement with Enlightenment values is a contemporary outgrowth of Enlightenment era European movements for increasing individual freedoms and resisting perceived arbitrary and external forms of authority. One way that Enlightenment philosophy contributed to increasing individual freedom was by relocating moral sources within the individual, which led to a configuration of the self that is reflected in theories like EFT. Broadly, my interpretation surfaced ideas promulgated by Descartes, Locke, Kant and Rousseau, as well as essential ideas from Expressivist and Romantic philosophies. Several themes were identified through the interpretation: the reduction and reification of emotion as a basic building block; the emotional brain and interiorized emotion; emotion scheme and the world inside our brain; immunity from cultural influence; emotion transformation as a return to grace; internal guide and the voice of nature; and, uniting of the expressivist and instrumental stance. Examining the assumptions of EFT revealed how moral values can become concealed within a mainstream psychotherapy theory, which in turn helped to explore the sociopolitical consequences. I concluded that EFT perpetuates a one-sided emphasis on individual minds, biological causes, and subjective experience, while deemphasizing social and political problems. EFT’s treatment of individual suffering seems to unintentionally encourage the client to adapt even further to the unacknowledged individualistic ideologies that may have created the suffering.

Dissertation Committee Members

Mary Weineke, PhD – Committee Chair

Phil Cushman, PhD

Sarah Peregrine Lord, PsyD


June 22, 2018
10:00 am - 12:00 pm PDT


Antioch University Seattle
2400 3rd Ave #200
Seattle, WA 98121 United States
(888) 268-4477

Antioch University and Otterbein University Announce Intention to Form First-of-Kind National University System.

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