Alex Gomez, Psy.D. is a 2018 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle.

Dissertation Committee

Mary Wieneke, Ph.D., Committee Chair

Phil Cushman, Ph.D., Committee Member

Sarah Peregrine Lord, Psy.D., Committee Member


hermeneutics, hermeneutic research, qualitative text analysis, psychologists, psychotherapists, clinical psychology, psychotherapy, emotion-focused therapy, EFT, sociocultural psychology, implicit assumptions, implicit values, enlightenment philosophy

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The purpose of this dissertation is to explore how a mainstream theory of psychological practice might inadvertently conceal and ignore contemporary values and ideologies and their pathological consequences. Through a hermeneutic approach, I interpreted Leslie Greenberg’s Emotion-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 was also an opportunity for the author to understand his own unexamined values as a therapist. Specific EFT constructs and concepts that reflected Enlightenment assumptions and values were examined. EFT was situated within Enlightenment philosophy, particularly it’s alignment with European movements for increasing individual freedoms and resisting church and other perceived arbitrary authority. An argument of how Enlightenment perceptions were disguised within EFT’s scientific and objectivist frameworks was formed based on this contextualization. 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, the assumptions that were surfaced reflected philosophical ideas promulgated by Descartes, Locke, Kant and Rousseau, as well as essential ideas from Expressivist and Romantic philosophies in general. Several theme 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 assumptions can become concealed within a mainstream psychotherapy theory, which in turn helped to explore its sociopolitical consequences. The conclusion maintained that EFT perpetuates a one-sided emphasis on individual minds, biological causes, and subjective experience, while deemphasizing social and political problems. In fact, EFT treatment of individual suffering seems to encourage the client to adapt even further to the unacknowledged individualistic ideologies that may have created the suffering. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA, and Ohio Link ETD Center,


Alex Gomez, Psy.D., 2018

ORCID Scholar # 0000-0002-8046-6366