Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Minuchin's Structural Family Therapy

Minuchin’s Structural Family Therapy
Sliver Article

It may sound superfluous to say that I learned my most important lesson about Structural Family Therapy from Salvatore Minuchin, but it’s true. When I was first introduced to family therapy in the ’70’s, Families and Family Therapy was my first textbook. Minuchin’s book was my primer for entering the field. I devoured that book.
Throughout my career, I have had a hobby of having authors inscribe the books they write. Attending a Minuchin workshop gave me the opportunity to have him inscribe my copy of Families and Family Therapy. When he was finally alone, I approached him and he was pleased to honor my request to write in my book.
As he was signing his name, I started talking about how meaningful the book had been to me when I started doing family therapy. As he finished inscribing, my last comment was that Families and Family Therapy had been my bible entering the field. He closed the book, handed it back to me, smiled and said, “I hope it isn’t any more.”
I walked away somewhat stunned. Minuchin had ditzed his own book. At first I wasn’t sure what to do with his comment. On reflection, I realized what he was saying. Structural Family Therapy, as put forth in Families and Family Therapy was written as an introductory text book. It describes a simple model of understanding the family and techniques to intervene. A family therapist should develop beyond techniques. A family therapist needs to integrate all the techniques. At some point a therapist stops using techniques and is able to be with the clients.
So if you, like me, started your career with the building blocks of structural family therapy and it was your basic outline for doing therapy, I hope it isn’t any more.