Debra Ferro, MA, LMFT, Director of Family Services
Debra Ferro, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, has been providing counseling services at Resolve for over five years. She is a former elementary education teacher and team leader, having taught at the kindergarten and fifth grade levels. Currently Debra holds graduate degrees in human and organizational psychology and marriage and family therapy. She is a doctoral candidate in psychology. For her doctoral dissertation research, she is looking at the relationships between parenting styles, adolescent identity styles, and social media usage and addiction in young adults. She has led workshops on parenting and has been a guest lecturer at Kean University's Department of Marriage and Family Therapy. She is adjunct psychology professor at Union County College. At Resolve she has a large caseload of children and families. She has special skills in custody/best interest evaluations and family reunification therapy. She has been group facilitator for social skills learning, adjusting to different types of families, and for children of separation and divorce.
In most major cities there exists an abundance of people seeking to provide you with mental health services. The first thing to do check for is a license. This may seem unnecessary but unfortunately there is a significant number of people who are not licensed to provide professional services and circumvent the licensing laws by using terms that do not fall under the license laws, terms like life coach, or professional advisor are among those that are not regulated. A Google search for licensees in each field should separate this type of wheat from the chaff. One you have found an individual with a license you will want to ascertain the amount of training or experience they have in the problem you are having. Have they taken courses? Have they taught in the field? Have they published in the area? are key questions for determining competence. Related to the previous, determine what they have done to keep up with the field. Find out what they do to learn the latest evidenced based treatments. In general, an educated integrative approach is best. Here the therapist has developed some competence in several treatment methods and have specific criteria for selecting the one most appropriate for your problem. A major and often overlooked requirement of quality healthcare is the measure the therapist uses to support his or her own diagnosis, progress, and hypotheses about you. You would not see a physician who uses no testing to confirm his/her diagnosis. Why would you expect less of a therapist? In fact, some authors have found that therapists that do no have an objective measure of their client’s mental status tend to improve minimally with experience. Finally determine how they bill, how they work with insurance, and how their rates compare with others providing similar services. The very best people do not necessarily charge the highest fees.
- The de-emphasis of early childhood is paramount. While CBT/REBT accepts the fact that dysfunctional emotional states are sometimes originally learned or aggravated by early teaching or irrational beliefs taught during development. It proposes that these early-acquired irrationalities are not automatically sustained over the years by themselves. Instead, people must actively and creatively re-instill them t. Consequently the CB/REBT usually spends very little time on the clients’ parents or family upbringing; but is fully able to them to bring about significant changes in their problems with life. The therapist demonstrates that no matter what the clients’ basic irrational philosophy of life, nor when and how they acquired it, they are presently disturbed because they still believe this self-defeating world- and self-view. If they will observe exactly what they are irrationally thinking in the present, and will challenge and question these self-statements they will usually improve significantly.
- Emphasis on deep philosophical change and scientific thinking. Because of its belief that human neurotic disturbance is largely ideologically or philosophically based, CBT/REBT strives for a thorough-going philosophic reorientation of a people’s outlook on life, rather than for a mere removal of any of their mental or psychosomatic symptoms. It teaches the clients, for ex ample, that human adults do not need to be accepted or loved, even though it is highly desirable that they be. REBT encourages individuals to be healthily sad or regretful when they are rejected, frustrated, or deprived. But it tries to teach them how to overcome feelings of intense hurt, self-deprecation, and depression. As in science, clients are shown how to question the dubious hypotheses that they construct about themselves and others. If they believe (as alas, millions of us do), that they are worthless because they perform certain acts badly, they are not merely taught to ask, “What is really bad about my acts?” and “Where is the evidence that they are wrong or unethical?” More importantly, they are shown how to ask themselves, “Granted that my acts may be mistaken, why am I a totally bad person for performing them? Where is the evidence that I must always be right in order to consider my-self worthy? Assuming that it is preferable for me to act well rather than badly, why do I have to do what is preferable?”Similarly, when people perceive (let us suppose, correctly) the erroneous and unjust acts of others, and become enraged at these others, they are shown how to stop and ask themselves, “Why is my hypothesis that the people who committed these errors and injustices are no damned good a true hypothesis? Granted that it would be better if they acted more competently or fairly, why should they have to do what would be better?” CBT/REBT helps clients understand that their demands and judgments of others is the basis of anger and conflict – not merely a result of the action of those who offend.
- CBT/REBT teaches that to be human is to be fallible, and that if we are to get on in life with minimal upset and discomfort, we would better accept this reality — and then unanxiously work hard to become a little less fallible.
- Use of psychological homework. CBT/ REBT agrees with most psychodynamic, Freudian, neo-Freudian, Adlerian, and Jungian schools that acquiring insight, especially so-called emotional insight, into the source of their neurosis is a most important part of people’s corrective teaching. It distinguishes sharply, however, between so-called intellectual and emotional insight, and operationally defines emotional insight as individuals’ knowing or seeing the cause of their problems and working, in a determined and energetic manner, to apply this knowledge to the solution of these problems. The rational emotive behavior therapist helps clients to acknowledge that there is usually no other way for him to get better but by their continually observing, questioning, and challenging their own belief-systems, and by their working and practicing to change their own irrational beliefs by verbal and behavioral counter-propagandizing activity. In REBT, actual homework assignments are frequently agreed upon in individual and group therapy. Assignments may include dating a person whom the client is afraid to ask for a date; looking for a new job; experimentally returning to live with a husband with whom one has previously continually quarrelled; etc. The therapist quite actively tries to encourage clients to undertake such assignments as an integral part of the therapeutic process.The REBT/CBT practitioner is able to give clients unconditional rather than conditional positive regard because the REBT philosophy holds that no humans are to be damned for anything, no matter how execrable their acts may be. Because of the therapist’s unconditional acceptance of them as a human, and actively teaching clients how to fully accept themselves, clients are able to express their feelings more openly and to stop rating themselves even when they acknowledge the inefficiency or immorality of some of their acts.In many highly important ways, then, rational emotive behavior therapy utilizes expressive-experimental methods and behavioral techniques. It is not, however, primarily interested in helping people ventilate emotion and feel better, but in showing them how they can truly get better, and lead to happier, non-self-defeating, self-actualized lives.