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Structural Family Therapy

Psy 660 Gary S. Katz, Ph.D.

Diagram & Discuss

For both of the next two vignettes:

Diagram the familys current structure Diagram the ideal family structure at the termination of successful therapy Give the rationale and structural family techniques one would use to accomplish the goals.

Diagram & Discuss #1


Husband and wife are unable to resolve conflicts between each other. They divert their focus of concern onto their child; instead of worrying about each other, they worry about the child. This reduces the strain on the father and mother, however, it victimizes the child and is therefore dysfunctional.

Diagram & Discuss #2

Cross-generational coalition:

Husband and wife are unable to resolve their conflicts, so they continue to argue through the children. Father says mother is too permissive; mother says hes too strict. He withdraws, she criticizes, he withdraws further. An enmeshed relationship is perpetuated between mother and child, whereby the mother responds to the childs needs with excessive concern and devotion. The father remains disengaged, not responding even when a response is necessary. Both husband and wife are critical of each others ways, but both perpetuate the others behavior with his or her own.

Role Play #1

After reviewing and diagramming the prior two families, split up into two groups. Group 1 will be assigned family 1, group 2 will be assigned family 2. Each group is to generate strategies for a structural family therapist work with their case example family. Each group should:

Come up with strategies for joining and accommodating the family. Plan an enactment for the family, with suggestions for a therapist about how to modify the enactment Create new options for behavior sequences in the family.

Role Play #1

After each group has strategized, groups are to choose students to role play each of the salient roles in their case example. Describe to the class their proposed enactment; the therapist may be used to modify the enactment. Conduct the role play for the class

Therapist should join the family Propose an enactment Work to modify the dysfunctional sequences & propose new options for behavior. If the therapist gets stuck, can tag another member of the role play team to take over.

Class is to provide feedback.

Role Play #2
Practice boundary-making skills.

Recall: an important part of structural family therapy is to realign the boundaries by increasing either the proximity or distance between subsystems in the family. One student plays the therapist, one student observes, remainder constitute a family.

Family should choose a presenting problem and be either highly enmeshed or highly disengaged. Do this out of earshot of the therapist. Therapists are to assess the family boundaries and then intervene to either strengthen boundaries to increase independence or challenge avoidance by blocking detouring and helping members increase contact with each other.