Structural Therapy

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Salvador Minuchin & Structural Family Therapy:

Working to Make a Change in Urban Families

Some prominent theorists in structural family therapy include Braulio Montalvo, Bernice Rosman, Harry Aponte, and Charles Fishman. The best known is the founder of the theory, Salvador Minuchin.

In 1959, Salvador along with the Minuchin, along with Dick Auerswald and Charles King, began developing a 3 stage approach to working with low-socioeconomic-level black families:

• treatment created out of necessity due to long-term, passive approaches to these families proving unsuccessful

• Minuchin discovered that dramatic and active interventions were necessary to be effective

• Minuchin discovered two common patterns in dysfunctional families: enmeshed, chaotic and tightly interconnected, or disengaged, isolated and seemingly unrelated

In 1967, Salvador Minuchin became the Director of Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic where he transformed the clinic into a family therapy center and developed many innovative ideas at the clinic. In 1975 Minuchin stepped down as director of clinic, but remained head of training until 1981.

As have other family therapy theorists, Salvador Minuchin has developed his own form of family therapy, known as structural family therapy (SFT). SFT utilizes not only a unique systems terminology, but also a means of depicting key family parameters diagrammatically. His focus is on the structure of the family, including its various substructures. In this regard, he is a follower of the systems and communication theory, since his structures are defined by transactions among interrelated systems within the family. He subscribes to the systems notions of wholeness and equifinality, both of which are critical to his notion of change. An essential trait of SFT is that the therapist actually enters, or joins with the family system as a catalyst for positive change. Joining with a family is a goal of the...
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