In This Article
In This Article
Structural Family Therapy is a strength-based, outcome oriented-treatment modality based on ecosystemic principles. The rationale behind this kind of therapy is that the treatment of an individual in some cases is successful only if their dysfunctional families are treated to solve the problem completely.
Structural Family Therapy (SFT) is a form of family therapy under the umbrella of Family Systems Therapy. SFT was designed by Salvador Minuchin, got its start in the early 1960s and evolved over the years. It observes and addresses patterns of interaction between members of the family in order to find the dysfunctional patterns that create problems.
In structural family therapy, there is a goal established to help improve communication and the way family members interact with each in order to then create healthy communication, appropriate boundaries, and eventually healthier family structure.
Therapists also explore the subsystems of a family, such as the relationships between siblings using role-playing activities in their sessions.
Structural Family Therapy comes under the umbrella of Family Systems Therapy approaches. Family systems therapy consists mainly of structural family therapy, strategic family therapy, and intergenerational family therapy.
Structural Family Therapy-looks at family relationships, behaviors, and patterns as they are exhibited within the therapy session in order to evaluate the structure of the family.
Strategic Family Therapy- examines family processes and functions, such as communication or problem-solving patterns, by evaluating family behavior outside the therapy session.
Intergenerational Family Therapy- identifies multigenerational behavioral patterns that influence the behavior of a family or certain individuals. Tries to find out how current problems could be caused due to this influence.
These are the main differences between the 3 types of Family Systems Therapy approaches.
There are many that can benefit from SFT to include individuals, single parents, blended families, extended families, individuals suffering from substance abuse, foster families, and those individuals that are seeking help from a mental health clinic or private practice.
The main theory addressed in Salvador Minuchin’s structural family therapy is that in order to change a person's behavior, a therapist must first look at the structure of their family. The belief in SFT is that the root of a problem lies in the structure of the familial unit and how they interact with each other.
So if change is to occur within the individual’s behavior it must first start with changing the family dynamics.
There are specific principles that SFT is based on. These are some of the beliefs that shape SFT:
Studies show that targeting families with this therapy is helpful in properly addressing the complex needs and problems faced by families of adolescents facing mental health issues.
In SFT, the therapist will use an intervention that is called 'structural family therapy mapping' in order to join the family setting. After observing how your family interacts, the therapist will draw a chart or map of your family's structure.
This chart helps identify the hierarchy, boundaries, and subsystems, or sub relationships, within the family unit, such as the relationship between parents or between one parent and one particular child.
The areas addressed pertain to specific rules within the family, patterns developed, and structure. There are six areas of observation within the family structure that Minuchin describes as being the most important. These include:
The model also conceptualizes the problem to find the correct strategy to understand the issue with a sense of clarity and a large emphasis on healthy communication. The therapist may appear to take sides when 'role-playing' in sessions in order to disrupt the negative interaction and to bring light to the situation in order to enact change within the way the family interacts (to learn more about the application of the therapy, visit this link).
As with any type of therapy, there are criticisms and limitations that arise. Some have stated that this kind of therapy is limited because it only involves members of an immediate nuclear family and does not take into account extended family members, social settings, friends, and neighbors.
Another concern/limitation is the financial and insurance component. Some insurance companies will not cover SFT as a specific therapeutic intervention. This, in turn, leaves the individual/family responsible to privately pay for these sessions and structural family therapy interventions interventions, which, in turn, can become financially difficult due to private pay rates.
Strengths and weaknesses of structural family therapy
For more details, visit this link.
By addressing the family systems unit and structure in structural family therapy, you will not only benefit individually, but the entire family unit will discover positive change that will help them as a whole family for years to come.