The Craft of Family Therapy: Challenging Certainties
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Family therapy trainees are inundated with a multitude of family therapy theories. They also have difficulty shifting from an individualistic view to one of seeing interactions and systems. How do therapists hone their own methods with all of these choices? And how do they learn how to best treat families with all of the focus being taken away from their clients and redirected instead on processes? Perhaps most importantly, how can they learn through an inductive process of exploring what has occurred during the therapeutic session?
Veteran therapist and founder of Structural Family Therapy, Salvador Minuchin, goes back to basics with his two co-authors Michael D. Reiter and Charmaine Borda in The Craft of Family Therapy. In this book they teach readers basic communication and family therapy skills using some of Dr. Minuchin’s most interesting and illuminating cases. Not only do readers re-learn basic techniques, such as reframing and joining, but they are treated to an in-depth commentary on each case, with Dr. Minuchin emphasizing the techniques he uses that allow him to refocus attention from the Identified Patient to the family as a whole. The book ends with three supervision transcripts from Dr. Minuchin’s students, whose commentary illuminates the struggles, fears, and insecurities that new family therapists face and how they can overcome them. Each of these chapters ends with a consultation interview that Dr. Minuchin conducted with each supervisee’s case family.
subsystems, and as I join I also challenge. I know that the family and their problems are more complex than the narrow description the family adheres to, and that their certainty is an enemy of change. My goal is to create a context where multiple explanations concerning behavior are possible. How do I move forward? I start by challenging the label of the “Identiﬁed Patient,” which has summarized her behavior as a product of intrapsychic meandering, and I help family members to see their
read these chapters we hope you can gain a sense of the common challenges that new therapists face, as well as some cues for thinking about how to improve your craft. The next three chapters (9, 10, 11), written primarily by the student therapists, provide a view from their perspective of how each one understood and utilized supervision to expand as a budding family therapist. As we watched portions of the videotaped sessions and provided these therapists with feedback, we were supportive of both
expertise that is uniquely mine in the perception that I bring, and that when I believe what I am saying, my voice is powerful. I learned that asking relational questions takes work, but that the result is worth the effort of developing the skill. Above all, the experience has helped me to become a better systemic family therapist, and that is a risk worth the taking. I hope that the things I learned in the analysis of my “failure” in contrast to Dr. Minuchin’s “success” provides you with a new
that I was looking at the concept too literally. It is not a matter of a therapeutic style; rather, it is a question of how central a role I have in the dynamic between family members. Are they talking to me instead of each other? Am I explaining to one partner what the other one means? If I am doing anything like this, I am too central. Minuchin’s lesson, that it is appropriate to stay active and enter the family system to provoke, direct, and help them see alternatives, was a very difﬁcult
who’s wrong. I’m not a judge. I’m not going to give you a verdict. They are in a state of high conﬂict and demanding my attention. I state my position, but it has little impact on their desire to continue to blame each other. Too Close for Comfort • 165 Lydia: As far as our relationship is concerned, the bottom line is I’m fed up. I am fed up with always having to be in the house with the kids, and that’s why I act out in various ways, okay? I act out! All my life, I’ve had to bear the