Global Perspectives in Family Therapy: Development, Practice, and Trends

By Kit S.Ng | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6

Systemic Family Therapy in Austria

GERDA KLAMMER

Austria is a small country with about 8 million inhabitants in the heart of Europe. Although its capital, Vienna, was once the metropolitan center of a multicultural monarchy, it has been shaken by decades of changes in and around the country since Austria became a republic in 1918. During the last 15 years, the opening of the borders of the Eastern European countries, the wars in former Yugoslavia, the migration of refugees, the joining of the European Union, and the close proximity to the Iron Curtain, have been both stressful and challenging to Austria. Trying to integrate foreigners and immigrants and depending on tourism and international trade continue to create problems Austrians have to deal with on a political, community, family, and personal level.

Currently, Austria is considered one of the richest countries in the world. At the same time, families with lower incomes are severely threatened when economic crises, divorce, unemployment, sickness, and family-related problems affect their social and economic functioning. Although 5% of households without children are close to the poverty line, about 12% of families with one child and 21% with three or more children are close to poverty as well, despite financial aid received from the state (Familienbericht, 1999). Political, legislative, and administrative trends are meant to foster the autonomy and adequate functioning of the family as a unit. Therefore, the state is committed to providing help for families (i.e., educational counseling, family counseling, family therapy training, mediation, and the like), so that family members in need are taught and given resources to solve their problems. Those who have mental health needs are also referred to appropriate professionals (Familienbericht, 1999). The model of the traditional nuclear family (mother spending time at home with the children while fa-

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