Family therapy is more than a collection of techniques used by practitioners who work with the whole family as the medium of change. It also provides a different perspective on the problems presented to members of the helping professions. In family therapy, problems are viewed as parts of repetitive sequences of interaction which maintain and are maintained by the problem. Such sequences may be observed in the present or identified as recurring themes throughout a family’s history. These repetitive behavioural patterns and enduring beliefs are interconnected into what might be called a family system. Practitioners using a systemic approach aim to identify and change the meaning and function of a presenting problem within the context of such a system. To be useful this perspective requires a descriptive language that informs and guides actions based upon its premises. Part I of this book introduces and illustrates some of the basic conceptual and perceptual tools that systemic therapists use in their work with families.
Chapter 1 presents problems in families in terms of relationships rather than of a single individual. Chapter 2 offers the genogram as a tool for plotting the development of relationship systems over time and as a way of pinpointing transitional stages during which problems often emerge. Chapter 3 proposes that the concept of punctuation facilitates a systemic view of a problematic situation. Such a view expands the range of possible therapeutic interventions. Chapter 4 defines a family therapist as an active agent of systemic change. Several models