Symbolic-Experiential was created by Carl Whitaker. In this theory, struggles occur because learned family cultures differ. There is a challenge over whose family of origin culture will dominate. The system is, in turn, unable to accommodate for family and individual developmental changes. Struggles also occur as members of the system pick sides or are being lured to pick sides of the presenting challenge.


Positive change occurs as members of the system establish a sense of belonging and are provided freedom to individuate.


This is an Experiential Model focusing on unblocking emotional expression, opening individuals to inner experience, as well as focusing on well-being and self esteem. Goals within Symbolic therapy are to expand relationship with extended family, expand relationship to culture and community, and develop a sense of boundaries. This theory explores multiple family generations.