Advances and New Directions

By Silvano Arieti; H. Keith H. Brodie | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 20

APPROACHES TO
FAMILY THERAPY *

Ira D. Glick

David R. Kessler

John E Clarkin


¶ Definition

MARITAL and family treatment can be defined as a professionally organized attempt to produce beneficial changes in a disturbed marital or family unit by using essentially interactional, nonpharmacological methods. Its aim is the establishment of more satisfying ways of living for the entire family and for individual family members.

Family therapy is distinguished from other psychotherapies by its conceptual focus on the family system as a whole. Major emphasis is placed on acknowledging that individual behavior patterns arise from, and inevitably feed back into, the complicated matrix of the general family system. Beneficial alterations in the larger marital and family unit will

therefore have positive consequences for the individual members, as well as for the larger systems themselves. The major emphasis is placed upon understanding and intervening in the family system's current patterns of interaction; the origins and development of these patterns of interaction usually receive only secondary interest.

In many families, some member or members may be "selected" as "symptom bearers." Such individuals will then be described in a variety of ways that will amount to their being labeled "bad," "sick," "stupid," or "crazy." Depending on what sort of label such individuals carry, they, together with their families, may be treated in any one of several types of helping facility—for example, psychiatric, correctional, or medical.

But there may not always be an identified patient. Occasionally a marital or family unit presents itself as being in trouble without singling out any one member. For example, a couple may realize that their marriage is in trouble and that the cause of their problems

____________________
*
Parts of this chapter were abstracted from: Glick, I.D., and Kessler, D. R. Marital and Family Therapy, 2nd ed. New York: Grune & Stratton, 1980, with the permission of the publisher.

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