Structural Family Therapy Counseling Approach

Topics: Family therapy, Family, Psychotherapy Pages: 12 (2839 words) Published: December 2, 2014


Structural Family Therapy Counseling Approach
Liberty University
COUN 601: Marriage and Family Counseling 1
October 10, 2014
The Structural Approach to Family Therapy
“Over the past twenty years psychotherapy and family therapy have been inundated with a plethora of empirically validated treatments for particular disorders” (Breulin, D.C., Pinsof, W., Russell, W.P., & Lebow, J., 2001. p. 293). (Breulin et al., 2001) suggest that psychotherapist will ultimately require to integrating empirical data and multicultural competence into their practice. Rather than specific models of therapy, elements common across models of therapy and common to the process itself are responsible for therapeutic change. According to the text, Minuchin describes structural approach to families based on the concept that a family is more than the individual biopsychodynamics of its members. Like most structuralist are interested in how the components of system interact. “The idea of looking at behavior in the context began sometime in the late 1940s and early 1950s” (Goldenberg and Goldenberg, 2013). This movement stemmed from those who were frustrated by the limitations of traditional psychiatry, the families, and the problems with juvenile delinquency (Goldenberg and Goldenberg, 2013). During the 1950s and the early 1960s, therapist came across individuals who repelled against traditional methods of counseling. Minuchin found that he needed a model of change where he saw inner-city delinquent children who roamed their school hallways and were troublesome. Structural therapy was birthed through three factors: the difficult population that Minuchin was working with; timing; and the collaboration with other colleagues. Structural Family Therapy or SFT was researched with the help of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Goldenberg and Goldenberg (2013) describes that the children who had diabetes had an unusual high number of stress-related condition were not improving by traditional forms of therapy. “Minuchin and his team begin to correlation between certain family characteristics” (Goldenberg and Goldenberg, 2013). As the theory grew in popularity, so did the Child Guidance Clinic which stretched the boundaries of traditional outpatient and inpatient work by incorporating the structural approach? SFT is based on Murray Bowen’s family systems therapy, which holds individuals separate from the network of relationships (Brown, 2008). Traditional individual therapy addresses the individual’s psyche in order to influence change in his or her relationships (Brown, 2008). SFT is similar to other therapies under the psychological framework of family systems therapy. These types of therapies view the family system as a unit that operates within culture, community and organizations. Goldenberg and Goldenberg (2013) report the therapeutic efforts of structuralist as follows: joining and accommodating, assessing family interactions, monitoring family dysfunctional sets, and restricting transactional patterns. “As a therapist, Minuchin (2013) describes himself as acting like a distant relative, joining a family system and respectfully accommodating to its style” (Goldenberg and Goldenberg, 2013 p. 286,). Joining is a technique that is used which helps the family to understand that the therapist is a concerned member working with them in a common search for alternative ways of dealing with family problems. It is important to acknowledge the pain or stress; the therapist will verbalize to the family members to know that he or she will respond to them with sensitivity in which their environment is safe to confront distressing issue. “Affiliating with the family, the therapist might make confirming statements regarding what is positive about each member” (Goldenberg and Goldenberg, 2013).

SFT views a family’s issues as a structural problem which is the dysfunction in the way the family interacts or operates instead of an individual’s...

References: Bjorck, J. P. (2007). A christian application of multimodal therapy. Journal of Psychology and Christianity. 26(2), 140-150
Breunlin, Pinsof, Russell, & Lebow
Burbee, Sparks, Pau, & Arnzen. (2011). Integrative marital intensive therapy: A strategy for marriages in severe distress. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, Vol. 30, No. 1, 37-50.
Christensen, A., Johnson, S., Lebow, J., and Chambers, A. (2012). Research on the treatment of couple distress. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 145–168.
Goldenberg, Herbert & Goldenberg, Irene. (2013). Family therapy: an overview. (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Hatchett, G. T. (2008). A one-size relationship stance does not fit all: Customization of the counseling relationship. Australian Journal of Guidance & Counseling, 18(2), 210-218.
Worthington Jr, Everett. (1991). Hope - focused marriage counseling. Downers Grove, Il: Intervarsity Press.
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