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Models and Types of Family Therapy

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    Family therapy

    In family therapy just as in other therapy questions play a fundamental role in ensuring that the therapists gets to the root of the problem is able help the couple get back on the right track. Circular questioning is one of the questioning techniques observed by family therapists to produce optimum results.. With circular questioning, dysfunctional family patterns and interactions can be identified and dealt with. And in the process free the family from any internal demons that are weighing them down. (Schoombie, 2008).

    A family therapist uses circular questioning to find out how life was in the past and how it is at the present. Therapists use questions to widen the scene that has been brought before them.

    It is the difference you create in your client’s minds about the reality they have created for themselves that is therapeutic. (Schooombie, 2008)

    For starters the family of this twelve-year-old needs to be put to task over how their marriage was before they got kids. Were they close? Have always been kept apart by their careers? Or if they started drifting apart after the kids came. When did it start exactly? What are other possible reasons?

    Further questions would include if the reason their have marital tension is really a problem caused by their busy lifestyles. Could the fact that they come from different backgrounds be one of the reasons why they have marriage problems and are unable to fully attend to their families. Could both the wife and the husband’s career have anything to do with their tensions?

    This Canadian family obviously came to therapy with a view of solving their son’s problem and most likely to vindicate themselves of their role in it. They could also have gone to therapy because they had the wisdom to see that their troubles could be creating problems for their children and went for therapy with a genuine believe that they could change things and help improve their relationship as a family.   But there is no gainsaying that their marital problems and the inability to make time out of their busy schedules for their kids is playing havoc with their psychological development. These parents might be thinking that that their son is the only one who is worse off, but it is evident that even his ten-year-old sister has problems of her own, also caused largely by the rift in their marriage and the lack of quality time.

    Such would be some of the deductions a family therapist can make after questioning this family. Once the family has come clean and made revelations to such nature that they are also part of their son’s problem then the therapy sessions for the son can begin in earnest.

    Two family therapy models that would come in handy and help mend things for this family are the Experiential therapy and the Milan therapy.

    Experiential therapy has been defined as a tool for exploring relationships and connections with others. (Casa Palmera, 2008).  Experiential therapy involves acting out past and present emotional atmospheres of the family of origin along with other significant relationships in the client’s life.  The main reason for this enactment is for the purposes of the client achieving self discovery. For every psychologically treatment to deemed a success the element of self discovery has to observed first

    By reliving the past experiences the client starts seeing their relationships from a different perspective and thus assisting them get rid of any bottled up emotions inside them.

    Experiential therapy frees clients from unresolved emotions around relationships helping them to begin living freer in the present. (Human Connections Counseling Services, 2008)

     Some of the known benefits of Experiential therapy include increased self-confidence and independence, greater focus on the present, connections between the real and symbolic, communication leading to enriched relationships, it also limits compulsive behaviors, and many others.

     The family in question would surely benefit from Experiential therapy because as it has been shown that their pasts will be interconnected with the present. Surely there must have been a time in their lives when they were free of the issues they are faced with now. By helping them to go back to those good old days they will see what they are missing out in the present and the problems they are creating for their kids.

    They will get back to the point where the rain started beating and pick up the pieces from there. A fuller or health relationship between this husband and his wife will naturally constitute a fuller life for their kids also. Therefore they can easily identify the special problems of their kids and help them deal with issues better. Neglect breeds some psychological problems in kids like the ADD and ADHD.

    As for the matter of the limited sessions, if I can be able to reach out to the family and draw out meaningful response from them in the first session – this depends on whether the couple is genuinely interested in solving the problem – then solutions can come in this short time. Hence the boy’s parents can take over from the therapist.

    If no meaningful success is achieved within this time I will instill that need for more sessions if they are to get to bottom of the problem and boy is healed.

    Milan therapy on the other hand states that families are composed of individuals who are also systems (Bateson 1971: 243). The theory was put forward by a group of psychologists called the Milan Group and it attempts to discover how the inner mechanism of an individual mind is in consideration of relationships around.

    Milan therapy has identified that many disorders in the family manifest themselves in the light of the communication patterns existing between the individual and the rest of the family.   The Milan Group saw the world in terms of patterns of relationships and information. (Tucker, 2008 )

    Milan therapy states that a change in family communication affects the whole family. This is what might have happened to the family in question and a therapist should try to restore the communication channels back to the way they were before. This way this family will able to share their problems as it has been shown that when part of the system breaks down the rest is also affected. The matter of limited sessions should be easy to deal with here as it only involves getting the couple to pledge that they will continue mending their communication patterns even after the therapy sessions are over.

    What is the relationship between the therapy models? The main one is that they both show that a breakdown in the family communication leads to much profound problems for the rest of the family. All of them deal with mending the leakages albeit differently.

    The Experiential method insists on one taking a journey of self discovery, whereas the Milan model involves looking at the whole system (family) in the light of the individual problem.

    The method that would be the most effective in treating the twelve-year-old boy it appears is the experiential model. This is because this model is much easier to use on individuals. In this model if the therapist is unable to fully involve the whole family in the healing process he/she can assist the individual alone.

    The therapist will help the boy look back and see when the problem was born and what could have started it.

    It has been shown that experiential model has the benefit of restoring self confidence in an individual. It also provides activities where learning and the stretching of both the mind are combined. There is also physical activity which helps the boy overcome his ADD/ADHD problems.

    The program also ensures that feelings of depression and anxiety are minimized and also facilitates one to make a connection with one’s self. A positive energy is built and a person is able to find a purpose.

    The model suppresses negative behaviors replacing with activities creative activities. The boy will then learn to express his disappointments using more useful ways which does not jeopardize his mental development or affect his social relationships.

    The bit about exercise is perhaps the most important element of the Experiential model. Dr. Ratey of writes on exercise and ADHD that:

    Exercise helps to heighten the response to stressors — that is, we become less stressed to the same stressors when in a fit condition. We don’t turn on the initial stress response as quickly. Also, we make our cells more resilient in a process that is called “stress inoculation”. By stressing the cells a bit, we build up internal resistance to future stressors so we make armies of our own antioxidant enzymes, repair and rebuild proteins, and improve the toxic waste disposal crews inside of our nerve cell.

    References, 2008.  About ADHD. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 19, 2008 at

    Casa Palmera (2007). Informative Articles: Experiential Therapy. from the World Wide Web on April 19, 2008 at

    DEFCS Phare (2008). Find out more about family therapy. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 19, 2008 at

     Schoombie, B. (2007) Circular Questioning. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on 19 April 19, 2008 at

    Simpson, L. (1991). The comparative Efficacy of Milan family therapy for disturbed and their families. New York

    Tucker, K. (2008). Family Therapy: The Milan Approach to Family Therapy, a Critique. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 19, 2008 at


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