Joining and Accommodating
In an attempt to disarm family members who may be suspicious or fearful of being challenged or blamed, structuralists typically begin by adjusting to the family's affective style. The therapist shows respect for the family hierarchy by asking first for the parents'observations. Nonthreatening, friendly, ready to help without being pushy, the structural therapist is at the same time adapting to the family organization, assimilating the family's language patterns, interactive style, and commonly used terms—and gaining a sense of family patterns and structures. Minuchin (1974) described himself as acting like a distant relative, joining a family system and respectfully accommodating to its style. Through this technique, the person feels recognized in a problem area without feeling criticized or guilty or to blame about it.
Assessing Family Interactions
Assessment is an integral and ongoing part of structural family therapy. Immediately upon joining the family or sometimes before meeting them, the therapist is forming hypotheses about the family's structural arrangement. Therapists use family mapping which often helps provide an organizing schema for understanding complex family interactive patterns.
Monitoring Family Dysfunctional Sets
Monitoring and helping to modify troubled or problematic transaction patterns is the crux of the structural intervention process. It consists of Boundary Making which represents an effort to create greater psychological distance between the enmeshed members and by bringing the marginalized member closer, to begin to modify the family's customary transactional patterns. Enactment which is a staged effort by the therapist to bring an outside family conflict into the session so that the family members can demonstrate how they deal with it. The therapist can then observe the conflict sequence and begin mapping out a way to modify the members' interaction and...