Comparison of Theory

Topics: Family therapy, Family, Systemic therapy Pages: 5 (1560 words) Published: March 18, 2014

A Comparison of Theories
Andre Carrington
February 18, 2014
Donna Clark
A Comparison of Theories
There are an abundance of valid theoretical orientations to choose from in family therapy. For a family therapist to be effective, it is important for them to choose a theory they feel comfortable using. This selection process must involve previewing the different theories to see which ones match their own unique personal style of counseling. This paper will discuss and compare strategic family therapy, structural family therapy, and Milan systemic family therapy. It will also include a discussion on the major contributors, the history, and the specific interventions of each approach. History and Main Contributors of Strategic Family Therapy

“Strategic therapy grew out of the communications theory developed in Gregory Bateson’s schizophrenia project, which evolved into three distinct models: MRI’s brief therapy, Haley and Madanes’s strategic therapy, and the Milan systemic model” (Nichols, M. 2010, p.141). These three theories were established at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto. The main contributors to strategic therapy were Gregory Bateson and Milton Erickson, an anthropologist and a psychologist (Nichols, M. 2010). History and Main Contributors of Structural Family Therapy

In the early 1960’s, Salvador Minuchin assembled a brilliant team of therapists who set out to transform the then current family systems theory to better deal with the juvenile delinquency he observed. Minuchin believed that therapy should be more simple, tangible and action-oriented, rather than abstract, or subconscious. According to Nichols and Tafuri, Manuchin believed “the trajectory of assessment in structural family therapy moves from a linear perspective, in which problems are located in the identified patient, to an interactional perspective, in which problems are seen as involving other members of the family” (Nichols and Tafuri, 2013). Minuchin’s ideas became extremely appealing and popular because they are easier to grasp for the patient and the clinician and easier to execute (Nichols, M. 2010). As a result, many therapists flocked to Minuchin to be taught his contemporary ideas. Like a pendulum shift, there was a distinct move away from structural family therapy after its rise because it became the subject of many criticisms (Nichols and Tafuri, 2013). History and Main Contributors of Milan Systemic Family Therapy

Milan Systemic therapy was developed by Mara Selvini Palazzoli, Luigi Boscolo, Gianfranco Cecchin, and Guiliana Prata and was based upon tenets found at the Mental Research Institute. The founders were attempting to assimilate the ideas of Gregory Bateson's strategic family therapy with their own new research findings. This team of therapists decided to take a more collaborative approach with family therapy, believing the strategic family therapy route was too encroaching. Specific Interventions for Strategic Family Therapy

According to Amini and Woolley, interventions used in strategic family therapy are symptom focused, and different for every patient. They are tailored to meet each client’s individual presenting problem. The goal of the intervention is to change the way the family dynamic works around the presenting problem. Interventions are to be performed by a highly skilled clinician who can assert his or her leadership in the context of the family (Amini and Woolley, 2011). The clinician then discredits the controlling power of the issue in order to place themself as the controlling figure in the family. Interventions are goal directed, and can include specific homework assignments that the family agrees to complete. One general strategy is the use of paradoxical interventions. This can include prescribing the symptom to the family to exaggerate that particular symptom in them family and highlight the level of damage it is causing (Amini and...

References: Amini, R. L., & Woolley, S. R. (2011). FIRST-SESSION COMPETENCY: THE BRIEF STRATEGIC THERAPY SCALE-1. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 37(2), 209-22. Retrieved from
Campbell, D. (1999). Family Therapy and Beyond: Where is the Milan Systemic Approach Today?. Child & Adolescent Mental Health, 4(2), 76-84. doi:10.1111/1475-3588.00254
Nichols, M. P. (2010). Family Therapy Concepts and Methods (9th ed.). : Allyn & Bacon.
Nichols, M. and Tafuri, S. (2013), Techniques of Structural Family Assessment: A Qualitative Analysis of How Experts Promote a Systemic Perspective. Family Process, 52: 207–215. doi: 10.1111/famp.12025
Wright, D. W. (1998). Family systems therapy: Developments in milan-systemic therapies. Marriage & Family Review, 27(3-4), 323-325. Retrieved from
Zeig, J. K., & Gilligan, S. G. (1990). Brief Therapy: Myths, Methods, And Metaphors
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