Our Clinical Approach
Structural and Strategic Therapy
Strategic family therapy seeks to address problems effectively and thereby enable successful outcomes. The approach is especially effective with difficult, entrenched problems that have consistently failed to improve.. As a result of its potential effectiveness and problem focused orientation, family therapy can often be completed in a shorter time frame than other therapy modalities. The concept of “brief therapy” is a misnomer and often misunderstood, as Brief Strategic Therapy is not suggesting a time limitation or a restricted number of sessions, but referring to the tendency for therapy to end up being brief as a result of the potential effectiveness of the model to achieve successful goal attainment rapidly.
Structural family therapy views the family as a unit that lives and operates within larger systems, such as a culture, the community, and organizations. This system ideally grows and changes over time. But sometimes a family gets “stuck,” often resulting in behavioral or mental health issues of one of the family members.
Rather than focus on the individual’s pathology, however, this approachconsiders problems to be located in the family’s structure. These problems become embedded in the way the family interacts or operates. SFT does not maintain that the family’s interactions, or “transactions” cause the pathology, but rather that the family’s transactions support and maintain the symptoms.The therapist’s goal is to change or modify the family structure – to get it “unstuck” from transactions that are supporting and amplifying certain issues or problems.
Structural Family Therapy is a strength-based, outcome oriented treatment modality based on ecosystemic principles:
- Context organizes us. Our behaviors are a function of our relations with others. The structural therapist focuses on what is taking place among people, rather than on individual psyches.
- The family is the primary context, the “matrix of identity” where we develop ourselves as we interact with spouses, parents, children, and other family members. The family is in constant transformation, adapting to an ever changing social environment.
- The family’s structure consists of recurrent patterns of interaction that its members develop over time, as they accommodate to each other.
- A well functioning family is not defined by the absence of stress or conflict, but by how effectively it handles them as it responds to the developing needs of its members and the changing conditions in its environment.
- The job of the structural family therapist is to locate and mobilize underutilized strengths, helping the family outgrow constraining patterns of interaction that impede the actualization of its own resources.