Understanding and Helping Families: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach

Understanding and Helping Families: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach

Understanding and Helping Families: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach

Understanding and Helping Families: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach


This book presents a new approach to understanding the family unit and how and why it functions as it does. The approach focuses on the cognitions of family members and how these, in turn, shape individuals' behavior and the functioning of the family system.

The use of the cognitive-behavioral perspective in family science has gained a quick and broad acceptance among social scientists and practitioners during the past decade. One reason for its success is that the basics of the approach are easy to learn and apply. Specifically, the approach maintains that a person who believes that he or she is a failure will -- because of this cognition -- act in certain self-defeating ways and have various self-deprecating feelings.

The wide acceptance of the cognitive-behavioral approach rests on more than its simplicity: the approach has repeatedly proven itself in the laboratory and in the clinic. The knowledge readers of this volume will gain about the cognitive-behavioral approach provides them with tools that they can use to better understand not only the family interactions, but the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals -- including themselves -- in the family setting.


Social scientists have made great progress over the past few decades in developing models and theories to explain how individuals both shape and respond to the environment in which they live. Family scientists and proponents of the cognitive-behavioral models of psychology are two of the groups of individuals who have played major roles in moving the social sciences forward, especially in recent years.

Our goal in writing this volume was to combine insights from the systems views of the family unit with insights from the perspective of psychology. Not coincidentally, the writings of family scientists as well as those of the proponents of the cognitive-behavioral models in psychology were the two sources from which we drew most heavily. The product we sought was a fresh perspective that would enable readers to understand in new ways both the functioning of the individual in the family unit and the functioning of the family unit itself.

In pursuing this outcome, we had several audiences in mind. The fact that we are both teaching faculty members motivated us to present the material in ways that would make the volume useful as a text in a college or university classroom. Further, as professionals who consult outside the academic setting, we wanted to describe our theory and approach in ways that were developed enough to be useful to practitioners, family educators, and researchers and, at the same time, concrete enough to be of value to students and laypersons.

As you will see from reading the first chapter of the text, we bridge the chasm that has existed in the literature' between individual psychology and the family systems perspective. We accomplish this by exploring the reciprocal . . .

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