The Family Structural Theory provides a method in which a nurse is able to identify how family members interact with one another to establish a baseline. These interactions create patterns of behavior that the nurse is able to focus on when assessing how, why, and under what circumstances family members behave in their assumed roles, how they are organized as a family, what their established boundaries are, and how they are able to adapt when faced with change, illness, or crisis. If these family interactions are failing to yield positive outcomes, the nurse can use the Family Structural Theory to facilitate improvement in family functioning (Minuchin, & Fishman, 2004).
Once actual and potential problems are identified in a dysfunctional family, a specific care plan, including family health promotion education, and strategies for initiating and maintaining behavior change can be developed. Family members should start by trying to solve their individual problems, one at a time, then begin the work of tackling the family’s problems, one step at a time. The nurse should educate, and reassure the family that change will occur gradually, with each member first changing a single behavior of their own. Once these baby-steps start to produce positive outcomes, the family’s rules and organizational structure, or lack thereof, would need to be changed to gain functional order from dysfunction (Minuchin, & Fishman, 2004).
An example of the Family Structural Theory at work is the successful treatment of those diagnosed, and suffering from the disease of Anorexia Nervosa. In 1978, Salvador Minuchin was a contributing author of Psychosomatic Families: Anorexia Nervosa in Context. Through the use of the Family Structural Theory, caregivers were able to identify causes, which were shown to often originate within the family itself, and design effective interventions to help change the behavior of those individuals with Anorexia Nervosa, and the behavior of...
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