Structural Family Systems

Topics: Family therapy, Family, Dysfunctional family Pages: 8 (3178 words) Published: January 9, 2015

Structural Family Therapy
Vivian Butler
Liberty University


Structural Family Therapy was founded by Minuchin whose desire was to help put structure back into a dysfunctional family. This theory focuses on the whole family as a unit. Minuchin discovered that families are organized into subsystems with boundaries. A dysfunctional family structure will show to be enmeshed, disengaged, and have confused boundary issues. This theory is designed with goals and techniques that will help the family be put back on track to become a functional family once again. In this research paper, the reader will understand how to restructure a family through; setting subsystems and making new boundaries using the different techniques in this theory.

Part I. Research
Minuchin founded the Structural Family model and this model is to help a therapist be able to put structure back into a dysfunctional family. This structure is placed back into the family by properly placing the family in their respected subsystems, by setting boundaries, and using different techniques to help the family become a functional successful family once again. What signs and symptoms does a family need to show to prove it is dysfunctional? Salvador Minuchin may have come across the answers to this question when he created the structural family theory. Minuchin seen the need to create a “more effective model for teens and their families because he believed what they were doing was not working and offered suggestions as how to help struggling families” (Minuchin S. , Salvador Minuchin on Family Therapy). “Minuchin’s original family structure can be traced to the early 1960s when he as conducting therapy, training, and research with delinquesnt boys from poor families at the Wiltyck School in New York” (Corey, 2009, p. 416). He and a few of his “colleagues from Wiltwyck School continued their study at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center in Philadelphia where the structural family model was developed” (Goldenberg, 2013, p. 301). Goldenberg (2013) described it as a system based, structural family theory focused on the active, organized wholeness of the family unit and the ways in which the family organized itself through transaction patterns” (p. 301). Minuchin believed a Structural therapist’s most effective way to “alter dysfunctional behavior and eliminate symptoms was to change the family’s transactional patterns that maintain them” (Goldenberg, 2013, p. 286). During his time of study, Minuchin, “discovered that families are organized into subsystems with boundaries regulating the contact family members have with each other turned out to be one the defining insights of family therapy” (Nichols, 2001, p. 176) Subsystems

What is the definition of a family and what does the family structure consist of? Merriam-Webster online dictionary (2014) defines family “as a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head” (Family, 2014). Gunman (2008) described family as a “system that is made up of subsystems, which arise in families as a result of differences” (p. 324). These family subsystems are; spousal, parental and sibling. Each family member has an assigned role in the subsystems in which they belong. As each individual is unique and has specific needs that must be met. Minuchin and Fishman (1981) wrote that “families have differentiated subsystems. Each individual is a subsystem, as are dyads, like husband and wife. Larger subgroupings are formed by generations (the sibling subsystem), gender (grandfather, father, and son), or task (the parental subsystem)” (p. 16). Minuchin describes each subsystem and its responsibility. He refers to the spousal subsystem as “boundaries that protect spouses, giving them an area for the satisfaction of their own psychological needs without the intrusion of in-laws, children, and others”...
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