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Structural Family Therapy Treatment Goals

Structural Family Therapy Treatment Goals

Structural Family Theory (SFT) is a classic model regarded as a distinct family therapy approach that arose from a systemic framework and influenced family therapy practice. Structural family therapists work with families to change maladaptive familial structures so that they can learn to solve problems quickly rather than over time (Tadros & Finney, 2018). The structural family model and techniques are intended to address problems with family systems, such as boundaries and highly authoritarian roles, rules, and patterns of interaction and coalitions within a family functioning between children and parents (Colapinto, 2019). This study will present the history of Structural Family Therapy and its key components. This paper will discuss issues that arise in unbalanced marriages and families and apply structural family theory in models and techniques. The author will integrate Christianity and Structural Family Therapy to rebuild a healthy foundation in the family system.

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Structural Therapy’s Foundation

Salvador Minuchin was born in 1921 and passed away in 2017 after graduating from the University of Cordoba in 1948. einstein uploaded with. Minchin traveled to New York to become a child psychotic. While working in New York City in the 1960s, Salvador Minuchin and his colleagues developed the Structural Family Therapy model (Salvador Minuchin – Minuchin Center for The Family, 2015). Minuchin’s Structural Theory model is a social and community psychiatrist model that focuses on working with families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds rather than wealthy clients. Minuchin shifted his focus from techniques and strategies to his experience, humanity, and creativity in therapy. He regarded the therapist as the primary agent of change (Andolfi, M. 2018). He is fascinated with systemic approaches to human distress and relationship issues within the family system. Structural Family Therapy (SFT) is a treatment system that identifies and addresses problematic patterns of interaction between families (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2017).

According to Salvador Minuchin’s theoretical Structural Family Therapy (SFT) approach, the family’s roles are not intrapsychic events. Changes in family structure can influence behavior and the inner psychic life of a family subsystem. The family subsystem: parents, marriage, and children as they relate to the functional family’s boundary. Limitations such as being too close or too far away. He also connects the power hierarchy and how stress in the family causes a shift in energy in the parent and children, causing an imbalance in the family structure. Minuchin’s fundamental concept establishes family boundaries, hierarchy, and rules (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2017). The therapist and the family collaborate to create a new system to help them change their behavior. Minuchin’s approach attempts to move away from traditional techniques such as psychoanalysis, which misunderstands interpersonal relationships. Structural Family Therapy (SFT) is a treatment system that identifies and addresses problematic patterns of interaction between families (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2017).

Structural Family Therapy Essential Elements

There are several techniques in structural family therapy for creating a “healthy family.” Structural Family Therapy methods include boundary-making and enactment, as well as joining. Boundaries are often intentionally crossed when issues or problems arise within the family system. Rigid boundaries (disengagement or withdrawal) limit contact or disconnect them from the family system. If a wife does not feel secure with her husband, she will withdraw from the relationship, which may lead to divorce; similarly, a child who does not want to talk to their parent about a problem may withdraw from the family. A diffuse (enmeshment) boundary describes a family relationship in which the space of two or more people lacks boundaries or when a parent is overly reliant on their child for support. Precise (healthy) boundaries are highly authoritarian and contribute significantly to nurturing family members, respecting and understanding family differences, and maintaining a healthy family subsystem (Briggs &Morgan, 2017). These boundaries greatly influence the family subsystem. A family can be divided into several subsystems, such as a spouse, sibling, and parent-child subsystem. Each family has its structure, with specific rules and regulations governing how the family operates and the expectations of the family unit. When the family attends therapy sessions, the counselor joins the activity to help the family strengthen their bonds. Instead of focusing on a specific individual problem or behavior, the family therapist will concentrate on the family relationship (Goldenberg, 2017). to establish a healthy boundary that allows family members to connect.

Minuchin also introduces the concept of enactment, which is a primary technique for mapping out the family’s conflict. Enactment assists the family in reorganizing the family into a healthier boundary. The idea is to isolate unhealthy family relationships and achieve normal family behavior. Enactment is a role-playing activity in which the therapist prompts family members to act out their parts. The goal of the family therapist is to focus on the present rather than the past. The activity assists the therapist in tracking behavior patterns and enables the family to identify the family problem by redirecting the behavior without blaming an individual. The family therapist gains insight into the problem by observing the enactment or instinctive behavior and participating in enactments to redirect the family and respond positively for everyone to understand each other’s expectations. The goal is to focus on appropriate boundaries, empower the family to move toward communication growth and development, and improve the relationship.

Theory of the Chosen Family

My interest in applying Structural Family Theory to marriage and family systems stems from a desire to comprehend the correlation between Structural Family Therapy and how it helps families become unhealthy and strive to become healthy. This interest arose in me due to an unexpected significant shift in my family. According to Smyth, Unpredictable experiences occur throughout the lifespan, causing stress in families (Smyth, 2018). The pressure represents horizontal stress. My husband was in a severe truck accident that left him disabled. There was a lot of adjustment in family members and personal growth during this time. Because the family’s breadwinner could no longer provide for the family that we had grown accustomed to, he developed anxiety and depression. I had to redirect my thinking and adjust to the fact that he could no longer do the things he used to do because of his disability, and the children had to accept that the family structure had changed. Many times, boundaries between the family subsystems were crossed. The hierarchy shifted to me during my husband’s illness, and when I was away, the ranking order shifted to the oldest daughter. Minuchin believes that families are organized hierarchically, that parents have power and authority over their children, and that the child is beneath the parents (Goldenberg et al., 2019). During this time, my oldest daughter and I kept the house running and never tried to usurp my authority, but I could see in her eyes that the accident impacted her.

According to the American Psychological Association, children mimic their parents’ behaviors, including those related to stress management. Parents who cope with stress in unhealthy ways run the risk of instilling those behaviors in their children. On the other hand, parents who cope with stress in healthy ways can promote better adjustment and happiness for themselves, as well as the formation of critically important habits and skills in their children (American Psychological Association 2018). I knew the role she had taken on was a big responsibility, but she could handle it because of her training, and she just needed to believe in herself. If I had not allowed her to go through the ordeal and kept telling her that she would be fine, that we were all in this together, she would have told me that I was doing an excellent job of training her and that she would be able to care for herself when she left the nest for good. Parents are to train their children, according to Proverbs 22:6, and wise sons and daughters bring joy to their parents (NKJ). Our daughter gained self-confidence as a result of it all, and we could draw strength from the family until my husband could resume his role with limitations.

A family is defined by Theory.

Structural Family Therapy (SFT) conveys how families are organized. Using the structural family theory to address overstepping boundaries will help align the family system. My mother and father met young and did not know the first thing about marriage or the responsibility of maintaining a family. Although I was raised with both my parents until I was seventeen, my sister did not. They divorced by the time she was six. When I asked my mother why she stayed in an unhealthy relationship for so long, she responded, I did not know I could make it with three kids. Although my father was present, his position in the hierarchy was not. My mother represented the family’s hierarchy. She set the rules, and we were expected to follow them as children. God’s plan for the husband is for him to love and cherish his wife, to bear primary responsibility, to provide for his wife, and to raise their children (Kostenberger, 2010). My mother set the rules for the family, and my father followed them.

The family circle consisted of the mother, children, and father off to the side but within the family circle. My mother found it difficult to submit to leadership because she did not feel loved and supported by my father. As a result, there were no boundaries in their relationship; it was clear that their respect for marriage and each other had vanished. The children were constantly pushed to one side, and there was no effective communication or discipline. During my brother’s adolescence, he did not receive male guidance as God instructed; he was disrespectful and withdrew from the family, dropped out of school, and left home at seventeen. I avoided causing any trouble for my mother or the household out of respect for her because she was going through enough. einstein

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Structural family therapy recognizes that each family has a variety of strengths that can be developed to assist the family in moving past dysfunctional patterns in their interactions (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2017). The therapist will include parenting counseling before bringing the child into the session. The therapist will participate in the session by demonstrating to the parents how to work together as a team, respect each other’s boundaries, and communicate with their spouse. When parents respect their children’s boundaries, their children will respect the family boundaries as well. When parents demonstrate love in their marriage and follow God’s guidance, their lives set a good example for their children to emulate. Allowing the children to attend therapy will help them understand the rules and regulations, as well as the expectations of their parents. Parents must develop a conscious philosophy of cultural engagement in their teenagers’ lives (Kostenburger & Jones, 2010). Children will honor and respect their parents and the family system when they understand their role.

Techniques to Try and the Bible

Understanding clients’ faith-based beliefs and incorporating their religious or humanistic spirituality into therapy as a marriage and family counselor improve culturally standardized therapeutic practice. Therapists must overcome their discomfort and learn to integrate faith discussions appropriately for their clients. Eppler and colleagues (2019).

As for the parents, the bible has clear instructions for parents to educate their children on positive attributes and to reframe from an unhealthy lifestyle to subtend from sex and unpleasure acts of the flesh (Köstenberger, 2010). The conditions for a healthy foundation are, first and foremost, the word of God, shelter and food, clothing, love, and the financial stability required to care for the child. According to Hernandez, “parents are the most important people in a child’s life.” Henderson and Thompson (2016), p. 8. The family system will become healthy when fathers and mothers return to God’s order. Offer yourselves to your husbands, as the Lord commands. Husbands adore their wives and are not bitter toward them. Parents are responsible for teaching their children about family values and God’s will. According to Hebrews 12:11, “all discipline appears not to be joyful, but sorrowful at the time; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” v. 11. To raise healthy children, it is essential to establish discipline and a love for correction when raising Godly children or any child. To raise healthy children, it is necessary to demonstrate discipline and a love for correction when raising Godly children or any child (Dobson, 2014).

Conclusion and Recommendations

Structural family therapy focuses on the family’s current problems rather than the family’s past or future. Although structural family therapy is an effective technique, it is only intended to examine a family function for a limited time. Other family theories, on the other hand, can be incorporated into families that require more intensive sessions and a longer duration of therapy.

Finally, Salvador Minuchin’s structural family therapy theory is intended to assist unhealthy and dysfunctional families in changing and reshaping relationships. When the family learns to function together rather than being divided in therapy, a healthy structure is formed, and a hierarchy with healthy boundaries is established. When healthy boundaries are established, the family member will learn how to deal with problems and issues by exercising self-control and discipline. The structural family theory will aid in raising the next generation of children to be more respectful of their parents and value life lessons. Rebuilding the foundation in God’s word and honoring parents’ teachings will leave a legacy for the children. As a result, the next generation will rise and pass on the family teachings and heritage to their descendants.

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American Psychological Association (2018). Managing stress for a healthy family. American Psychological Association.

Andolfi, M. (2018). Salvador Minuchin: Teacher of life and family therapy pioneer. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 39(2), 257-259.

Colapinto, J. (2019). Tracking in Structural Family Therapy. In Encyclopedia of the couple and family therapy (pp. 2957–2959). Springer,

Dobson, J. (2007). Parenting Isn’t for Cowards. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

Dobson, J. (2014). The New Dare to Discipline. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House

Esposito, J. and Hattem, A., 2017. Introduction to family counseling. doi:

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Gregory Briggs J., Morgan D.M. (2017) Subsystem in Family Systems Theory. In: Lebow J.,

Chambers A., Breunlin D. (eds) Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy. Springer, Cham.

Henderson, D. A., & Thompson, C. L. (2016). Counseling children. Cengage Learning. 2015. Salvador Minuchin – Minuchin Center for The Family. [online] Available at <> [Accessed February 22, 2021]

Eppler, C., Cobb, R. and Wilson, E., 2019. Multifaith Perspectives on Family Therapy Models. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 31(1-2), pp.1-35.

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Smyth, T. (2018, June 11). Horizontal and Vertical Stressors By Teyhou Smyth. Retrieved February 20, 2021, from

Tadros, E., Finney, N. (2018). Structural family therapy with incarcerated families. The Family Journal, 26, 253. doi:10.1177/1066480718777409


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You were introduced to a family in this unit’s study’s structural family therapy demonstration video (linked in Resources). Use the information about the family from the session you watched as your guide, and keep in mind what you read in each text (chapter 10) about goal development and treatment planning. Then, complete the following: (300 words or more)

Structural Family Therapy Treatment Goals

Structural Family Therapy Treatment Goals

  • 1. Identify the presenting problem.
  • 2. Devise three specific goals for this family based on the information from the demonstration. Include one goal addressing each of the treatment’s early, middle, and late phases.
  • 3. Clearly and thoroughly discuss how you arrived at these goals and how these goals align with the structural family therapy model.

Based on what you learned about the client’s family from the demonstration video (linked in Resources), imagine you are the therapist who will see them for their next visit. Identify an intervention from the structural family therapy model you would apply in the session. In this discussion, briefly describe the intervention, including the following: (300 words or more)

  • Its general purpose and goal.
  • Who and what is the target of the intervention?
  • Some questions that would be used to apply this intervention.
  • The desired outcome of the intervention.
  • The elements that make this intervention systemic.

Use the literature from the unit and any additional literature to support your discussion post. (chapter 7)

Please click this link to watch the video

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