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Structural Family Therapy as an Assessment and Treatment Method

Autor:   •  June 29, 2016  •  Research Paper  •  3,945 Words (16 Pages)  •  511 Views

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Structural Family Therapy as an Assessment and Treatment Method

In this paper I will give you an overview of what Structural Family Therapy (SFT) is, how it was developed and who the major theorist and contributors were to the theory. Then, I will develop a case conceptualization and hypothesis of an example family using the Structural Theory of Family Therapy. A three stage treatment plan will be developed based on my conceptualization of the family. Then, lastly I will give a synopsis of how I feel structural family therapy fits my ideas on how I will assess and treat families as a therapist. Now without further delay, let’s get started down the path of Structural Family Therapy.

Structural Family Therapy

Structural Family Therapy was developed in the 1960’s, by Salvador Minuchin, as different approach to the treatment of individuals in need of mental health treatment. While he was working in New York City at the Wiltwyck School for boys, he and a group of colleagues began to teach themselves how to do psychotherapy with families, by learning as they went along. The group noticed that a commonality amongst their patients was a lack of “structure” within the family. This lack of structure, in their minds, was what caused the family to not function properly. Based on this premise, Dr. Minuchin led a program at the school that tried to improve family functioning, thus beginning the formation of SFT (Metcalf, 2011).

His success with families during this time led to a groundbreaking book, Families of the Slums: An Exploration of Their Structure and Treatment (1967). In this book, he began to lay out the three foundational concepts of SFT. These concepts are structure, subsystems, and boundaries, which help the therapist to define the dynamics of the family (Nichols, 2010). In other words, the main premise of structural therapy is a family can be compared to a machine or any other type of functional system. The family has to have its structure, like the frame of a car all of the parts need work based off of how they affect functional purpose of the basic structure. The parts of the car all attach to the car in order to make it go and the members of the family have their roles in order to make the family function. Then the car has various parts that have different functions just like the subsystems of the family have different functions within the family system. Then finally, the systems of the car have their boundaries, for example the fuel and oil don’t mix inside the car and when they do get mixed the car doesn’t run. The same is true for each member or system within the family. For example, when the parent becomes a friend to the child, then the hierarchy within the family becomes dysfunctional.

In SFT, the concept of structure refers to the consistent or organizational way in which


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