Integrity Therapy

The first time I heard of Integrity Therapy was in the late ’90’s when I worked in the mental health field. Integrity Therapy was likely the very first “wellness and values-based” model of psychotherapy. The basic principle is that the degree of distress or anxiety in one’s life is a direct reflection of the degree of violation of the contracts and commitments made to one’s self and social community. According to this model, mental health and wellness thrives when honoring one’s values in daily life and mental illness and angst ensues when infidelity and violation of those values occur. The Integrity Therapy model was designed from the combined works of O. Hobart Mowrer (inspired by the book Magnificent Obsession” by Lloyd C. Douglas) and Dr. Nedra R. Lander.

Psychosis represents the character crisis that results when we suffer from repressed guilt at losing hold of our moral compass while still believing in the moral value system itself. Mowrer’s view was that neurotic symptoms are a product of denied secret guilt when we try to live a “double life.” An example would be someone having an extramarital affair while still declaring undying love and fidelity to their spouse. Integrity therapy doesn’t move one towards a new set of values, but instead towards open and honest confession of the violation and then a return to the already established set of moral values.  The other option (not therapeutic) would be to abandon the old value system, claim they never loved their spouse in the first place and move on, all in an effort to maintain mental stasis.

So, my girl, two opposing value systems cannot occupy real estate in the same mind and have the person remain healthy and sane. An individual has to either realign the self to their original set of values (Integrity Therapy Model) or deviate from that first system and choose to live by an altogether different set of values. Trying to live with one foot in each world is something that can make people feel crazy. The best way to keep from going out of your mind when you abandon your original set of values is to be open and honest to those you are leaving and then be willing to completely accept the consequences of that choice. Close and lock the door, so to speak, so you can open another.

You live on one side of the door and I live on the other.

I hope you are healthy and sane. I miss you.





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