Handbook of Family Therapy: The Science and Practice of Working with Families and Couples

By Thomas L. Sexton; Gerald R. Weeks et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5

Family-of-Origin Treatment

WILLIAM C.NICHOLS, EdD, ABPP
Athens, Georgia


INTRODUCTION

Family-of-origin treatment is an approach that takes several different forms and modes of intervention, rather than a single, distinctive model of therapy. It generally consists of several ways of making therapeutic interventions under certain circumstances and for certain purposes, rather than being the sole way of doing therapy, even for those therapists who regard interventions with the family of origin as an exceedingly important element in family therapy.


Terminology

Family-of-origin therapy is used as a broad term in this chapter but one with some specific meanings. Family therapy that involves, whatever the particular forms of intervention, working with two or more generations, including an adult client's family of origin, to change the relationship between the client and his or her family of origin, is regarded here as familyof-origin therapy. The terms family-of-origin therapy, intergenerational family therapy, and multigenerational therapy are used here somewhat interchangeably. Some theorists and therapists, as noted by Fine and Hovestadt (1987), would prefer to restrict the term family-of-origin because of concerns over whether the focus is on two-generational or three-generational families. Working with either two-generational or three-generational families would in a strict sense be family-of-origin therapy. This use of the term family-of-origin therapy is done with the recognition that the intergenerational concept has carried specific meanings in contextual family therapy, such as the theoretically and clinically rich concept of intergenerational loyalties (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark, 1973). Similarly, multigenerational has embodied particular meanings-for example, Bowen's concept of multigenerational transmission process (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark, 1973; Bowen, 1978; Kerr, 1981).

Whatever the terminology, Carr (2000) notes that “all transgenerational therapists are

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