Family System Therapy Approaches

1-)Structural family therapy

2-)Strategic family therapy,

3-)Intergenerational family therapy

  • Structural family therapy, designed by Salvador Minuchin, looks at family relationships, behaviors, and patterns as they are exhibited within the therapy session in order to evaluate the structure of the family. Employing activities such as role play in session, therapists also examine subsystems within the family structure, such as parental or sibling subsystems. 
  • Strategic family therapy, developed by Jay HaleyMilton Erickson, and Cloe Madanes, among others, examines family processes and functions, such as communication or problem-solving patterns, by evaluating family behavior outside the therapy session. Therapeutic techniques may include reframing or redefining a problem scenario or using paradoxical interventions (for example, suggesting the family take action seemingly in opposition to their therapeutic goals) in order to create the desired change. Strategic family therapists believe change can occur rapidly, without intensive analysis of the source of the problem. 
  • Intergenerational family therapy acknowledges generational influences on family and individual behavior. Identifying multigenerational behavioral patterns, such as management of anxiety, can help people see how their current problems may be rooted in previous generations. Murray Bowen designed this approach to family therapy, using it in treatment for individuals and couples as well as families. Bowen employed techniques such as normalizing a family’s challenges by discussing similar scenarios in other families, describing the reactions of individual family members instead of acting them out, and encouraging family members to respond with “I” statements rather than accusatory statements.


Family systems therapy has been used to treat many mental and behavioral health concerns. In general, it may be considered an effective approach for those concerns that appear to relate to or manifest within the family of origin. Family systems therapy has been shown to be effective with families, couples, and individuals.

This approach may be helpful in addressing conditions such as schizophrenia, alcohol and substance dependencybipolar, anxiety, personality issues, depression, and eating and food issues






Leave a Reply