Emotionally Focused Therapy with African American Couples with Dr. Paul Guillory | POP 824

A photo of Dr. Paul Guillory is captured. He is an author, trainer, and associate professor. Dr. Guillory is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Do you work with marginalized clients or couples? How can you deepen your approach to complex and nuanced topics like racial identity in therapy? Where do you come to understand more about culture and its impact on people?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about emotionally focused therapy with African American Couples with Dr. Paul Guillory.

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Meet Dr. Paul Guillory

A photo of Dr. Paul Guillory is captured. He is an author, trainer, and associate professor. Dr. Guillory is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Dr. Guillory is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Berkeley in the Clinical Science Psychology Department and is a certified trainer & supervisor in Emotionally Focused Therapy. He is also the author of Emotionally Focused Therapy with African American Couples: Love Heals. In addition, he has produced several online training videotapes that demonstrate integrating attachment and culture in therapy.

Visit Dr. Guillory’s website and connect on LinkedIn.

In This Podcast

  • What is EFT?
  • Where do you learn about culture?
  • Dr. Guillory’s tips for therapists on using EFT with couples
  • Dr. Guillory’s advice for private practitioners

What is EFT?

EFT stands for emotionally focused therapy because it emphasizes the emotional experience of the person or the couple, and in particular, the attachment experience that is embedded in the emotional experience.

There’s a broader view of emotional experience that EFT has that includes thoughts, perceptions, meaning-making, and somatic experiences. So, we’re tracking and trying to gain depth in all of those with an attachment over[view].

Dr. Guillory

EFT looks at the problem while observing the emotional attachments and patterns that arise between the couple as they go through the issue.

Where do you learn about culture?

Too often the idea is that if you are a black, white, Asian clinician … you learn about culture from the people in front of you. The problem with that is that, well, we’re not experts in our own culture!

Dr. Guillory

The expectation shouldn’t be on the client to be the full authority on what it feels like to be a part of their culture.

Of course, they bring lived valuable experience, however, the clinician who works with the client should also pursue education and studies to understand what connects the culture’s people as a whole. 

Dr. Guillory’s tips for therapists on using EFT with couples

1 – Race is not a category

When we treat race as a category … and then we go on to process their information as if that tells us something. The racial identity is multifaceted and multidimensional.

Dr. Guillory

2 – Spend time asking clients about their racial identity

It’s a lot of grey areas, that people can be black in so many different ways and have different securities around when race shows up both from a context of where they live or go to school, but also between two black people who identify being black in the therapy session, and that has an impact in the way they interact with each other.

Dr. Guillory

3 – Ask clients questions to help them – and you – locate themselves

  • What does your ethnicity mean to you?
  • Have you experienced any discrimination or racism in your life?
  • Did your parents experience any discrimination or racism in their lives?

4 – Pursue your own education. Develop your understanding of the complexities by continuing to study and work with clients. Build your archive to draw from.

Dr. Guillory’s advice to private practitioners

Allow yourself to become lost in the moment in session with the client. When the clients mimic this experience, it’s been a good session! Be there in the moment with them because it allows you to enjoy it and for them to experience your focused attention.

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Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

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