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: Family Theory

Cass Dykeman

Up to this point, the chapters in this book have focused on counseling and psychotherapy with individuals. Why care about the application of counseling to families? After all, the founders of counseling did not seem to care about applying their ideas to whole families. In this chapter, reasons are presented why one should care about the familial applications of counseling and psychotherapy. In addition, key terms are defined, prominent theories are detailed, and practical applications of these theories are discussed.

So, as counselors and therapists, why should you care about family therapy? The following questions suggest possible reasons: What would family therapy theories add to your clinical reasoning? What would family therapy techniques add to your clinical tool bag? It is hoped, at the end of this chapter, you can list many answers for both questions. Right now, let me start with the assertion that family therapy can enlarge the scope of your clinical reasoning and practice. Specifically, it can enlarge your scope from individuals to families and the larger sociocultural contexts that make up an individual's environment. Family therapy can help you look at the patterns of communication and relationship that connect people to each other and to their social and physical environments.

The scope of this chapter will be counseling modalities whose prime focus is the family as a system (i.e., conjoint, strategic, structural, and transgenerational). In the past decade, many individual counseling modalities have been successfully extended to a family setting (e.g., behavioral, cognitive, narrative, and solution-focused). The theory and pragmatics of these modalities are addressed in the other chapters of this book.

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