Structural Family Therapy

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Models of Therapy
Structural Family Therapy
Theory:
Structural Family Therapy (SFT) has a few interventions within the theoretical model that I could see myself using with clients (families) from diverse backgrounds with diverse presenting problems. I am in agreement with the way this model looks at the different types of families and the types of issues they present with such as the patterns common to troubled families; some being "enmeshed," chaotic and tightly interconnected, while others are "disengaged," isolated and seemingly unrelated. This model also helped me understand that families are structured in "subsystems" with "boundaries," their members not seeing these complexities and problems that are going on between them. Compared to the four family and couple therapy models in this paper, I think this model fits the most with Adlerian assumptions for the following reasons. This model understands and speaks to the complexities in the family system, the roles that each member takes on how they relate to each other, of power, and hierarchy, thus treating the family system holistically. This is also similar to the emphasis on democratic parenting skills that Adler focused on, with the aim to help families understand that relationships based on power and hierarchy are not effective in the long run. A few other similarities between SFT and Adlerian interventions are the use of reenactment, metaphors, and focusing on the family’s strengths to work toward a common goal of a changing the existing structure of the family to a healthier one. Role of the Therapist:

When using this model, I would be comfortable as the therapist as my goal would be to join the system using myself to transform it. In that role, I would be active and directive, determining the structure of the therapy and facilitating the process. This model may work better with families from diverse background because from personal experience and understanding, it may be easier for Asians to let the therapist take on the facilitator role, structuring and directing because most Eastern cultures and families are run that way. I like the aspect of this model where the therapist seeks to change the maladaptive patterns by choreographing family interactions in session in order to create the opportunity for new, more functional interactions to emerge, using the major techniques of joining (engaging and entering the family system), diagnosing (identifying maladaptive interactions and family strengths), and restructuring (transforming maladaptive interactions). By learning how to use this model well, I could learn to assess and facilitate healthy family interactions based on cultural norms of the family being helped when using this theoretical model in practice. Interventions:

Most of Minuchin’s interventions under this model resonated with me, however it seems as if this model (and Minuchin himself) tends to be quite directive, I will have to keep in mind that for some families this may not be the best approach to take because they may find it offensive and crossing their (the family’s) boundaries. I also think that with the use of common sense and after building an alliance with the family, the direct approach can be a healthy no-nonsense way of helping the clients see the problem, and facilitating change may not be a process that gets dragged on for months.

I think practicing the intervention of joining could benefit me as a therapist because I as the therapist would support specific behaviors or verbalizations to increase the strength and independence of every member of the family, subsystems, and alliances. I could do this by adjusting to the communication style and perceptions of the family members to “join” the system, making the goal to establish an effective therapeutic relationship with the family. I can also resonate with using restructuring where I would be able to utilize therapeutic interventions that bring...
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