Structural Family Therapy

What is Structural Family Therapy?

Structural Family therapy is a type of therapy used in psychology to help families improve their communication, interactions, and relationships.  It focuses on understanding and addressing the patterns and dynamics within a family system to bring about positive change.  Structural Family therapy views the family as a system with interconnected parts. It emphasises the importance of family structure, hierarchy, boundaries, and roles in shaping individual and family functioning. The psychologist works collaboratively with the family to identify and modify unhealthy patterns and create healthier ways of relating to one another.

When is Structural Family Therapy used in psychology?

Structural Family therapy is used when families face challenges and difficulties that affect their functioning and well-being.  It is particularly helpful in situations where there are conflicts, communication breakdowns, behavioural problems in children or adolescents, or when the family is going through significant transitions, such as divorce or remarriage.  This therapy can be useful for families with members of all ages.

What to expect in Structural Family Therapy sessions:

Throughout Structural Family therapy sessions, you can expect the following:

Assessment: Your psychologist will gather information about the family’s history, relationships, and current challenges. They will observe family interactions and identify patterns that contribute to the difficulties.

Mapping family dynamics: Your psychologist will help you and your family members understand the structure and dynamics within your family system. This may involve identifying hierarchies, boundaries, and roles.

Restructuring: Your psychologist will work with you to modify unhealthy patterns and promote more functional ways of interacting. This may involve setting clearer boundaries, redistributing roles, and improving communication.

Gradual transitions: As the therapy progresses, your psychologist will help your family navigate transitions and apply the skills learned in therapy to real-life situations.

Remember, therapy is personalised to your unique needs and experiences. Your psychologist will adapt the approach to ensure it is respectful, empowering, and supportive of your therapeutic journey.

Reference: Eddy B.P., Clayton C. and Hertlein K.M. (2021) ‘Our Family is A Team: A Structural Family Therapy Tool for Counselors’, Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 16(1), pp. 95–108. doi:10.1080/15401383.2020.1744496.

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