guide to family therapy

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Tags: Family Therapy - Practical Guide – Manual – Theory – Summary - Course – counselling – counsellor


All information in this manual was collected for personal use from freely accessible sites on the internet, a
lot of it was found in the free encyclopaedia Wikipedia.
The same applies to all pictures used, which I downloaded from public domain sites.
Since I feel many people will benefit and appreciate being allowed to get easy access to this kind of
information ordered in short, easily accessible chapters, I decided to make it available for free to
Should any of the authors of the borrowed texts feel that the present manual is not compatible with the
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Family Therapy – Wikipedia


1 History and theoretical frameworks


2 Techniques


3 Publications

4 Licensing and degrees

4.1 Values and ethics in family therapy

5 Founders and key influences


6 Summary of Family Therapy Theories & Techniques

7 Academic resources

8 Professional Organizations

9 See also

10 References


11 External links
Brief Strategic Family Therapy


Strategic Family Therapy – Kimberly Gail


Solution Focused Brief Therapy – Wikipedia


1 Basic Principles

2 Questions

3 Resources

4 History of Solution Focused Brief Therapy

5 Solution-Focused counselling

6 Solution-Focused consulting

7 References

Brief (psycho-) Family Therapy – Wikipedia


Extended Family Therapy or Bowenian Family Systems Therapy I - Wikipedia




Differentiation of Self




The Nuclear Family Emotional Processes


The Family Projection Process


The Multigenerational Transmission Process


Sibling Position


Emotional Cutoff


Societal Emotional Processes


Normal Family Development


Family Disorders


Goals of Therapy



Family Therapy with One Person


Bowen’s Family Systems Therapy II

More about triangles

Salvador Munichin’s Structural Family Therapy - I


Salvador Munichin’s Structural Family Therapy - I


Virginia Satir’s Humanistic Family Therapy


Behavourial & Conjoint Family Therapy


Milan Systemic Family Therapy or “Long Brief Therapy”


Response Based Therapy – Wikipedia


Narrative Family Therapy I - Wikipedia


Narrative Family Therapy II




Basic Family Therapy Techniques


Techniques for Information Gathering



Family System Strategies

Intervention Techniques

Communication Skill Building Techniques


Structure of a Family Therapy Session

Stages and steps of Problem Centred Systems Therapy - Can.Fam.Physician

A guideline for family assessment

Structure of Family Therapy

Systemic Family Therapy Manual

Basic Family Therapy Techniques in alphabetical order


Summary of Family Therapy Theories and Techniques

Family Therapy Survey



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Family therapy, also referred to as couple and family therapy and family systems therapy, is a branch of
psychotherapy that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. It
tends to view change in terms of the systems of interaction between family members. It emphasizes family
relationships as an important factor in psychological health.
What the different schools of family therapy have in common is a belief that, regardless of the origin of the
problem, and regardless of whether the clients consider it an "individual" or "family" issue, involving families in
solutions is often beneficial. This involvement of families is commonly accomplished by their direct participation in
the therapy session. The skills of the family therapist thus include the ability to influence conversations in a way
that catalyzes the strengths, wisdom, and support of the wider system.
In the field's early years, many clinicians defined the family in a narrow, traditional manner usually including
parents and children. As the field has evolved, the concept of the family is more commonly defined in terms of
strongly supportive, long-term roles and relationships between people who may or may not be related by blood or
Family therapy has been used effectively in the full range of human dilemmas; there is no category of relationship
or psychological problem that has not been addressed with this approach. The conceptual frameworks developed by
family therapists, especially those of family systems theorists, have been applied to a wide range of human
behaviour, including organizational dynamics and the study of greatness.


1 History and theoretical frameworks

2 Techniques

3 Publications

4 Licensing and degrees
4.1 Values and ethics in family therapy

5 Founders and key influences

6 Summary of Family Therapy Theories & Techniques

7 Academic resources

8 Professional Organizations

9 See also

10 References

11 External links


History of Marital Therapy

Gurman, A. S. & Fraenkel, P. (2002). The history of couple therapy: A millennial review. Family Process, 41, 199-260.

G&F point out that couples therapy (formerly marital therapy) has been largely neglected, even though family therapists do 1.5-
2 times as much couple work as multigenerational family work. They also note this is not such a bad ratio, as 40% of people
coming to therapy attribute their problems to relationship issues. G&F define Four Phases in the History Couples Therapy:

Phase I - 1930 to 1963

1929 to 1932 - Three marital clinics opened; they were service and education oriented, and saw mostly individuals

The closest thing to theory was what was borrowed from psychoanalytic - interlocking neurosis

1931 the first marital therapy paper was published

Theory was marginalized due to a lack of brilliant theorists, and a lack of distinction from individual analysis
Phase II - 1931 to 1966
Psychoanalytic Experimentation

Therapists are seen as telling truth from distortion, rather than creating a truth

Mostly individual sessions, but some conjoint; still treated like seeing two individual clients in the same room though

Some started to downplay the role of the therapist

Family was outshining couples work, and the couple techniques weren't innovative or particularly effective
Phase III - 1963 to 1985
Family Therapy Incorporates

Family therapy overpowers couples, even though a number of big name people really mostly saw couples
Coined concepts like quid pro quo, homeostasis, and double bind for conjoint therapy
Coined naming roles members played, fostered self-esteem and actualization, and saw the therapist as a
nurturing teacher
Multigenerational theory approach, with differentiation, triangulation, and projection processes, with the
therapist as an anxiety-lowering coach - societal projection process was the forerunner of our modern
awareness of cultural differences Copied from the web.
Power and control (or love and connection) were key. Avoided insight, emotional catharsis, conscious power
plays. Saw system as more, and more important, than the sum of the parts
Phase IV - 1986 to now
Refining and Integrating

1986 was the publication of G&K book

New Theories were tried and refined, like Behavioral Marital Therapy, Emotionally Focused Marital Therapy, and
Insight-Oriented Marital Therapy. All four have received good empirical support. Couples therapy was used to treat
depression, anxiety, and alcoholism.

Efforts were focused on preventing couples problems with programs like PREP

Feminism, Multiculturalism, and Post-Modernism impacted the field

Eclectic integration, brief therapy, and sex therapy ideas were incorporated into our work Copied from the web.

History and theoretical frameworks
Formal interventions with families to help individuals and families experiencing various kinds of problems have
been a part of many cultures, probably throughout history. These interventions have sometimes involved formal
procedures or rituals, and often included the extended family as well as non-kin members of the community (see for
example Ho'oponopono). Following the emergence of specialization in various societies, these interventions were
often conducted by particular members of a community – for example, a chief, priest, physician, and so on - usually
as an ancillary function.[1]
Family therapy as a distinct professional practice within Western cultures can be argued to have had its origins in
the social work movements of the 19th century in England and the United States.[1] As a branch of psychotherapy,
its roots can be traced somewhat later to the early 20th century with the emergence of the child guidance movement
and marriage counselling.[2] The formal development of family therapy dates to the 1940s and early 1950s with the
founding in 1942 of the American Association of Marriage Counsellors (the precursor of the AAMFT), and through
the work of various independent clinicians and groups - in England (John Bowlby at the Tavistock Clinic), the US
(John Bell, Nathan Ackerman, Christian Midelfort, Theodore Lidz, Lyman Wynne, Murray Bowen, Carl Whitaker,
Virginia Satir), and Hungary (D.L.P. Liebermann) - who began seeing family members together for observation or
therapy sessions.[1][3] There was initially a strong influence from psychoanalysis (most of the early founders of the
field had psychoanalytic backgrounds) and social psychiatry, and later from learning theory and behaviour therapy -
and significantly, these clinicians began to articulate various theories about the nature and functioning of the family
as an entity that was more than a mere aggregation of individuals.[2]
The movement received an important boost in the mid-1950s through the work of anthropologist Gregory Bateson
and colleagues – Jay Haley, Donald D. Jackson, John Weakland, William Fry, and later, Virginia Satir, Paul
Watzlawick and others – at Palo Alto in the US, who introduced ideas from cybernetics and general systems theory
into social psychology and psychotherapy, focusing in particular on the role of communication (see Bateson
Project). This approach eschewed the traditional focus on individual psychology and historical factors – that involve
so-called linear causation and content – and emphasized instead feedback and homeostatic mechanisms and “rules”
in here-and-now interactions – so-called circular causation and process – that were thought to maintain or
exacerbate problems, whatever the original cause(s).[4][5] (See also systems psychology and systemic therapy.) This
group was also influenced significantly by the work of US psychiatrist, hypnotherapist, and brief therapist, Milton
H. Erickson - especially his innovative use of strategies for change, such as paradoxical directives (see also Reverse
. The members of the Bateson Project (like the founders of a number of other schools of family therapy,
including Carl Whitaker, Murray Bowen, and Ivan Böszörményi-Nagy) had a particular interest in the possible
psychosocial causes and treatment of schizophrenia, especially in terms of the putative "meaning" and "function" of
signs and symptoms within the family system. The research of psychiatrists and psychoanalysts Lyman Wynne and
Theodore Lidz on communication deviance and roles (e.g., pseudo-mutuality, pseudo-hostility, schism and skew) in
families of schizophrenics also became influential with systems-communications-oriented theorists and
therapists.[2][6] A related theme, applying to dysfunction and psychopathology more generally, was that of the
"identified patient" or "presenting problem" as a manifestation of or surrogate for the family's, or even society's,
problems. (See also double bind; family nexus.)
By the mid-1960s a number of distinct schools of family therapy had emerged. From those groups that were most
strongly influenced by cybernetics and systems theory, there came MRI Brief Therapy, and slightly later, strategic
therapy, Salvador Minuchin's Structural Family Therapy and the Milan systems model. Partly in reaction to some
aspects of these systemic models, came the experiential approaches of Virginia Satir and Carl Whitaker, which
downplayed theoretical constructs, and emphasized subjective experience and unexpressed feelings (including the
subconscious), authentic communication, spontaneity, creativity, total therapist engagement, and often included the
extended family. Concurrently and somewhat independently, there emerged the various intergenerational therapies
of Murray Bowen, Ivan Böszörményi-Nagy, James Framo, and Norman Paul, which present different theories about
the intergenerational transmission of health and dysfunction, but which all deal usually with at least three
generations of a family (in person or conceptually), either directly in therapy sessions, or via "homework", "journeys
, etc. Psychodynamic family therapy - which, more than any other school of family therapy, deals directly
with individual psychology and the unconscious in the context of current relationships - continued to develop


through a number of groups that were influenced by the ideas and methods of Nathan Ackerman, and also by the
British School of Object Relations and John Bowlby’s work on attachment. Multiple-family group therapy, a
precursor of psychoeducational family intervention, emerged, in part, as a pragmatic alternative form of intervention
- especially as an adjunct to the treatment of serious mental disorders with a significant biological basis, such as
schizophrenia - and represented something of a conceptual challenge to some of the "systemic" (and thus potentially
"family-blaming") paradigms of pathogenesis that were implicit in many of the dominant models of family therapy.
The late-1960s and early-1970s saw the development of network therapy (which bears some resemblance to
traditional practices such as Ho'oponopono) by Ross Speck and Carolyn Attneave, and the emergence of
behavioural marital therapy (renamed behavioural couples therapy in the 1990s; see also relationship counselling)
and behavioural family therapy as models in their own right.[2]
By the late-1970s the weight of clinical experience - especially in relation to the treatment of serious mental
disorders - had led to some revision of a number of the original models and a moderation of some of the earlier
stridency and theoretical purism. There were the beginnings of a general softening of the strict demarcations
between schools, with moves toward rapprochement, integration, and eclecticism – although there was,
nevertheless, some hardening of positions within some schools. These trends were reflected in and influenced by
lively debates within the field and critiques from various sources, including feminism and post-modernism, that
reflected in part the cultural and political tenor of the times, and which foreshadowed the emergence (in the 1980s
and 1990s) of the various "post-systems" constructivist and social constructionist approaches. While there was still
debate within the field about whether, or to what degree, the systemic-constructivist and medical-biological
paradigms were necessarily antithetical to each other (see also Anti-psychiatry; Biopsychosocial model), there was a
growing willingness and tendency on the part of family therapists to work in multi-modal clinical partnerships with
other members of the helping and medical professions.[2][6][7]
From the mid-1980s to the present the field has been marked by a diversity of approaches that partly reflect the
original schools, but which also draw on other theories and methods from individual psychotherapy and elsewhere –
these approaches and sources include: brief therapy, structural therapy, constructivist approaches (e.g., Milan
systems, post-Milan/collaborative/conversational, reflective), solution-focused therapy, narrative therapy, a range
of cognitive and behavioural approaches, psychodynamic and object relations approaches, attachment and
Emotionally Focused Therapy, intergenerational approaches, network therapy, and multisystemic therapy
(MST).[8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] Multicultural, intercultural, and integrative approaches are being
developed.[16][17][18][19][20][21] Many practitioners claim to be "eclectic," using techniques from several areas,
depending upon their own inclinations and/or the needs of the client(s), and there is a growing movement toward a
single “generic” family therapy that seeks to incorporate the best of the accumulated knowledge in the field and
which can be adapted to many different contexts;[22] however, there are still a significant number of therapists who
adhere more or less strictly to a particular, or limited number of, approach(es).[23]
Ideas and methods from family therapy have been influential in psychotherapy generally: a survey of over 2,500 US
therapists in 2006 revealed that of the ten most influential therapists of the previous quarter-century, three were
prominent family therapists, and the marital and family systems model was the second most utilized model after
cognitive behavioural therapy.[24]
As we move through the 21st century, the internet is fostering the growth of online programs that make courses and
programs in family therapy more widely accessible. Using mass media techniques to increase public understanding
of issues in family therapy has added a new frontier for amplification in the future.

Family therapy uses a range of counselling and other techniques including:

communication theory

media and communications psychology



relationship education

systemic coaching

systems theory

reality therapy
The number of sessions depends on the situation, but the average is 5-20 sessions.
A family therapist usually meets several members of the family at the same time. This has the advantage of making
differences between the ways family members perceive mutual relations as well as interaction patterns in the
session apparent both for the therapist and the family.
These patterns frequently mirror habitual interaction patterns at home, even though the therapist is now incorporated
into the family system.
Therapy interventions usually focus on relationship patterns rather than on analyzing impulses of the unconscious
mind or early childhood trauma of individuals as a Freudian therapist would do - although some schools of family
therapy, for example psychodynamic and intergenerational, do consider such individual and historical factors (thus
embracing both linear and circular causation) and they may use instruments such as the genogram to help to
elucidate the patterns of relationship across generations.
The distinctive feature of family therapy is its perspective and analytical framework rather than the number of
people present at a therapy session. Specifically, family therapists are relational therapists: They are generally more
interested in what goes on between individuals rather than within one or more individuals, although some family
therapists—in particular those who identify as psychodynamic, object relations, intergenerational, EFT, or
experiential family therapists—tend to be as interested in individuals as in the systems those individuals and their
relationships constitute.
Depending on the conflicts at issue and the progress of therapy to date, a therapist may focus on analyzing specific
previous instances of conflict, as by reviewing a past incident and suggesting alternative ways family members
might have responded to one another during it, or instead proceed directly to addressing the sources of conflict at a
more abstract level, as by pointing out patterns of interaction that the family might have not noticed.
Family therapists tend to be more interested in the maintenance and/or solving of problems rather than in trying to
identify a single cause. Some families may perceive cause-effect analyses as attempts to allocate blame to one or
more individuals, with the effect that for many families a focus on causation is of little or no clinical utility.
Family therapy journals include: Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Family Process, Journal of Family
, Journal of Systemic Therapies, The Australian & New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, The
Psychotherapy Networker
, The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, The Australian Journal of Family Therapy, The
International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work
, Journal for the Study of Human Interaction and
Family Therapy,


Licensing and degrees
Family therapy practitioners come from a range of professional backgrounds, and some are specifically qualified or
licensed/registered in family therapy (licensing is not required in some jurisdictions and requirements vary from
place to place). In the United Kingdom, family therapists are usually psychologists, nurses, psychotherapists, social
workers, or counsellors who have done further training in family therapy, either a diploma or an M.Sc.. However, in
the United States there is a specific degree and license as a Marriage and Family therapist.
Prior to 1999 in California, counsellors who specialized in this area were called Marriage, Family and Child
Counsellors. Today, they are known as Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT), and work variously in private
practice, in clinical settings such as hospitals, institutions, or counselling organizations.
A master's degree is required to work as an MFT in some American states. Most commonly, MFTs will first earn a
M.S. or M.A. degree in marriage and family therapy, psychology, family studies, or social work. After graduation,
prospective MFTs work as interns under the supervision of a licensed professional and are referred to as an
Marriage and family therapists in the United States and Canada often seek degrees from accredited Masters or
Doctoral programs recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy
Education(COAMFTE), a division of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. For accredited
programs, click here.
Requirements vary, but in most states about 3000 hours of supervised work as an intern are needed to sit for a
licensing exam. MFTs must be licensed by the state to practice. Only after completing their education and internship
and passing the state licensing exam can a person call themselves a Marital and Family Therapist and work
License restrictions can vary considerably from state to state. Contact information about licensing boards in the
United States are provided by the Association of Marital and Family Regulatory Boards.
There have been concerns raised within the profession about the fact that specialist training in couples therapy – as
distinct from family therapy in general - is not required to gain a license as an MFT or membership of the main
professional body, the AAMFT.[26]

Values and ethics in family therapy
Since issues of interpersonal conflict, power, control, values, and ethics are often more pronounced in relationship
therapy than in individual therapy, there has been debate within the profession about the different values that are
implicit in the various theoretical models of therapy and the role of the therapist’s own values in the therapeutic
process, and how prospective clients should best go about finding a therapist whose values and objectives are most
consistent with their own.[27][28][29] Specific issues that have emerged have included an increasing questioning of the
longstanding notion of therapeutic neutrality,[30][31][32] a concern with questions of justice and self-determination,[33]
connectedness and independence,[34] "functioning" versus "authenticity",[7] and questions about the degree of the
therapist’s "pro-marriage/family" versus "pro-individual" commitment.[35]