Structural Family Therapy Essay

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Structural Family Therapy  


DEFINITION

Structural family therapy is a model of treatment based on systems theory that was developed primarily at the Philadel¬phia Child Guidance Clinic, under the leadership of Salvador Minuchin, over the last 15 years. The model’s distinctive fea¬tures are its emphasis on structural change as the main goal of therapy, which ac¬quires preeminence over the details of individual change, and the attention paid to the therapist as an active agent in the pro¬cess of restructuring the family.

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

Structural family therapy was the child of necessity, or so the student may con¬clude in tracing the origins of the move¬ment back to the early l960s, to the time when Salvador Minuchin was doing ther¬apy, training, and research at the Wilt¬wyck School for Boys in New York. Ad¬mittedly, our historical account does not need to start precisely there, but the devel¬opment of a treatment model—no less than the development of an individual or a family—can only be told by introducing a certain punctuation and discarding al¬ternative ones.

It would be possible to choose a more distant point in time and focus on Minu¬chin’s experience in the newborn Israel, where families from all over the world
converged carrying their bits of common purpose and their lots of regional idiosyn¬crasies, and found a unique opportunity to live the combination of cultural univer¬sals and cultural specifics. Or, reaching further back, one could think of Minu¬chin’s childhood as the son of a Jewish family in the rural Argentina of the 1920s, and wonder about the influence of this early exposure to alternative cultures— different rules, different truths—on his conception of human nature. Any of these periods in the life of the creator of structural family therapy could be justified as a starting point for an account of his creation. The experiences provided by both are congruent with philosophical viewpoints deeply rooted in the...

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