Structural Approach to Family Counseling 1
Structural Approach to Family Counselling
Itappears a challenge to describe family counselling without theconsideration of the social work. Both can be said to have a commonground at the practice as well as conceptual levels. Both involve aperspective of viewing the person in context, analyzing the relationbetween the environment and behavior, between whole and part. Insocial work and family theory, a passive problem solving stance isrejected and in place of it what is supported turns out toindividuals’ empowerment through tapping of their resources inexistence, creation of a viable change context and uncovering newresources (Sink, 2011, p. 18).
Theobjective of this paper is to describe some of the main concepts ofthis perspective, using structural family approach. This is just butone of the various schools of family counselling. In the similarmanner that a person reflects only a part of the family, thisapproach characterizes only a partial reflection of family theory.The effectiveness of this approach to family counselling has beenscrutinized with various clinical populaces especially substanceabusers and psychosomatics.
Inthe structural approach to family counselling, intervention andassessment seems to be a woven fabric which is inseparable. They aretailored by the feedback of the system. The counsellor is encompassedin this process of weaving at the intellectual level as well as theexperiential stage. Assessment is inseparable and ongoing from onestage to the next treatment stage and all interventions. From astructural approach viewpoint, assessment is subsequently lessapprehensive of the symptoms etiology but much concern is given tomaintenance of current symptom. As sorting out of the present fromthe past is no easy task, the counsellor ought to be an editor tochoose from all the data available in regard to obtain theinformation that best exhibits patterns and consequently enhancestherapeutic leverage(Tan, 2011, p.112). .
Maps: Blue prints for change
Thecounsellor is directed in the change process through constructing afamily map. Statistically, maps reflect the family’s ongoingtransactional outlines, much as blueprints exhibit the evolutionprocess of constructing a home in a statistical manner (Erford, 2013,P.417). In the assessment phase of this approach, the maps serve thedouble objective of assisting in formulating of treatment goals andstructural hypothesis concretization.
Justlike all counsellors, a structural family counselor is neverimpartial. Assumptions of the structural approach form the ground ofall undertakings. The chief objective of counselling is to alter thefamily’s transactional rules that sustain the symptom. The momentthe modification of those rules takes place, members of the familystarts experiencing an extended sense of “other” and “self”and the viability of the system is enhanced through increased problemsolving choices and flexibility. Following modification, homeostasis,which initially integrated the symptom, now operates in aim ofmaintaining and incorporating some of the rule changes and the veryroles the system previously nullified or rejected (Tan, 2011, p.113).
Thecounselor ought to perform the role of the accommodator as well asthe challenger. Change cannot come by lest the counselor riskschallenging the rules of the family that are dysfunctional.Concurrently, the counsellor ought to respect the culture of thefamily. The solution for the counselor in such a dilemma is to adoptan attitude that brings balance in the elements of respect and thoseof risk. The counsellor does not challenge individual’s motives buttheir methods of solving problems. In that manner it is easier torecall that the family and the counselor share a common enemy that isthe rules that bond the system and this makes them colleagues inshared endeavor (Erford, 2013, P.46). For better grasp of this saidendeavor and what is to be done about it treatment is divided intoseries of phases.
Stages of Treatment
Allfamily counselors share a common view that the path to symptomresolution is by means of system reorganization but it is importantto note that not all share a common perspective when it comes to theroute to follow. Even though each and every phase possess its ownhazards, techniques and goals, stages aren’t viewed as entitiesthat are discrete. However, they are abstracted as nesting in anindependent manner. That is to say that each contain proportions ofall (Tan, 2011, p.114). The nature of the mixture is dependent uponthe treatment stage, its affiliated goals, the techniques in use, thephase of the specific period and the distinctive blend between thefamily and the therapist.
Themethodologies of structural approach can be categorized into twoclassifications i.e. the ones that assist to form the counsellingschematics and sustain a family’s self-sense and the ones thatpromote change, disequilibrate the system and challenge theself-sense (Seligman, 2014, p.77).
Theobjective of this first stage is to develop the counselling system.The approach that is most commonly applied in this stage is joining.Counselors ought to come to know the families they are treating andsubsequently join their specific culture. This should happen withoutthe therapist compromising their objectives or themselves. Directedby feedback, the counselor builds a vibrant balance between distanceand proximity, creating leadership through following the clientthrough joining aspects referred to as tracking, mimicry andmaintenance. In this stage, there is formation of initial hypothesisafter which it is tested, refuted or modified and then embedded inthe change process. Any preliminary discomposure experienced byeither the family or even the therapist is just but a short-livedbreak of a framework in evolution. Such distresses really exhibit aunique moment to link with the families and experience and read theirrespective structures (Sink, 2011, p. 20).
Atthis point there is combination of three functionalities. Theoperations include identifying the problem, setting goals andplanning, and structure identification. Problem identification is tobe done with the family in a fashion which is specifically explicit.This is to mean that focus is on why the family is on treatment, whatare the specific behaviors they don’t want to remain with and thuswant them changed. Structure identification takes place at theconceptual level within a therapist’s mind. The therapist startsthe formation of the family’s map, determines the constellation ofinteractions that sustain the symptom (Sink, 2011, p. 2).
Thisis a stage which primarily encompasses the restructure of operations.The counselor actively functions in order to embed the structuralgoals and the stated treatment by trying to correct dysfunctionalcoalitions in the family, introduce and fortify suitable boundaries,reinforcing the parental subsystem and dissolving coalitions. Sucharrangements considered to be dysfunctional would consist ofinstances where other systems become part of the symptom maintainingstructure. Interventions ought to be in consistency with empowermentof suitable family hierarchies as well as structural goals (Sink,2011, p. 21). The assignment of tasks at this point is boththerapeutic as well as diagnostic and has the capacity to reinforceexperiences from the session as well as treatment goals.
Thisis a phase which focuses on sustaining change. The self-fortifyinggains created in the previous stages need to be stabilized as thefamily tussles with pressures of change. New relationships and rules,though more operative, are still subject to their desired patternspull (Sink, 2011, p. 22). This turns to be a crucial point oftransition in the counseling process. It is a process which isarduous and long. Complacency can creep in if care is not taken assome changes have occurred and one might be tempted to think thateverything is now good. Both the therapist and the family tend to betired of their efforts, in addition, they are somewhat pleased withthe direction of things.
Thisis the last phase, also known as the termination stage. Even thoughit is assumed most often, it does not have less significance whencompared to all other stages. Structural family therapy model doesnot have an optimum number of sessions. Nevertheless, treatment isnormally brief, moderated by the family, their background culturesand the ongoing problem. At this stage, one can assist in determiningwhen treatment is to be terminated. Indicators such as more jokingand more social time can signal that the treatment is coming to aclose (Sink, 2011, p. 22). Structural reorganization deliversconcrete and worthy markers for termination and change. For instance,is there change in the family map? Has the flexibility and thevariety increased within the family? Are there boundaries which areclearly defined? Are individuals developmentally on the right track?In this stage, the counsellor starts to distance from the family. Thecounselor ought to make the family to leave treatment easily and evenreturn return more easily when need arises. At the end of it all thetherapist should trust the natural ability of the family to healitself (Tan, 2011, p.120).
Themain goal of a structural approach to counselling a family is torestructure a family organization which is dysfunctional. The familyand the members are hypothesized as systems that nest in anindependent manner within huger systems with each having an influenceon the other. The counselor is an active agent of change and isresponsible for development of a therapeutic system and establishmentof a setting for transformation through means of restructuring(Sharf, 2004, p.111).
Inthis approach, normal development and thinking processes areintegrated with each other to form a treatment basis. The sociocultural context or the eco-system is perceived to be a significantelement of the family functioning. So as to meet the demands fromsuch a bigger setting, change is a necessity in the organizationalstructure (Seligman, 2014, p.76). Growth and subsequent greatercomplexities are counterbalanced by the need for stability andprotection. Families that are trapped at a developmental plateau areincapable of bargaining the pressure of restructuring thus stick todesired roles and rules. By means of a dynamic symmetry of approachesof disequilibrium and accommodation, the counselor is responsible forthe organization of a healing framework with the family. This istreatment paradigm which is shared, it gives the members of thefamily the opportunity of tapping hidden aspects of themselves andsubsequently renovate the family into a more developmentally suitableand flexible assembly.
Personal integration section
Integrating Christianity and counselling
WhenGod created Adam and Eve, he had the intention that they should livein harmony. God gave them the opportunity to fill the world but peacewas to be required of them. In today’s world, this is not the caseas many families are torn apart, holding onto anger. I think thestructural approach to family therapy is well suited in bringing thatpeace back, the peace commanded in the Bible. According to Christianprinciples, living in unity is a fruit from God, Peace is God givenand conflict is viewed as something that angers God (Tan, 2011,p.46). It is in this line that I find the structural approach tofamily therapy in consistency with my faith which is Christianity andthere is no one point that there occurs discrepancies.
Thestructure of a family relates to the rules that are establishedwithin a family over a period of time. These structures consequentlydetermines how and with whom the members interact. According tostructural approach, the structure of the family will at the top haveparents possessing most of the power and the children will be beneaththem. In an integrated Christianity line, however, ideally thehusband is the head of the household and thus is supposed to havemuch power (Tan, 2011, p.46). Beneath him follows the wife and thechildren respectively.
Inregard to the Bible, which is the most powerful book used byChristians, family is something sacred and favored by God. The bookof Genesis 2:24 says that for that reason a man is to leave hismother and father and in is to be unified by his wife, and for thatreason they become a single flesh in God’s eye. In an almostsimilar way, Proverbs 17:6 implies that the children bore by childrenare considered a crown to the aged, and similarly parents turns outto be a pride to their children. God intentions according toChristianity was for man and woman to be married and for them to bearchildren. God wished-for generations of families to emanate from oneunification of one woman and one man. The fact that most families arealways far from realizing God’s purpose for the formation of thefamily brings sort of psychological burden which structural approachto family counselling is always trying to fix. The way Christianityenvisions a family without hitches, a family where respect is part ofdaily living is the same way structural approach of family therapyintends family members to live (Tan, 2011, p.32).
Behaviordisorders comes to take place in the family when its boundaries andstructure fail to permit the family favorably respond to fluctuatingsurroundings. Structural hitches frequently propose a family whichhas a hierarchy which is ineffective and weak or one that isarbitrary and rigid. The structural family therapist ought to beconscious of the structure and rules of a family so as to help thedysfunctional family in a better way(Tan, 2011,p.46). This is also true for the therapist that uses anintegrated Christian approach.
Likecoalitions and alliances, boundaries are subsequently factors usefulin the determination of behavior disorders. Boundaries that are looseare linked with enmeshment and this implies that there is a veryclose connection between the family members. This can be a greatsource of conflict of roles leading to displacement of individual orfamily identity. Boundaries that are rigid, on the other end, have aconsistency in detachment, this implies that there is too muchdistant and consequently leads to poor patterns of communication.Families that are said to be enmeshed attempt to take everything inas opposed to detached families which always try to keep everythingout. Both cases of extremism are trouble signals. Both my religion,Christianity, and the structural approach of family counselling sharea common viewpoint in solving such cases.
Variousfamilies that have greatly embraced Christianity always attempt to bedetached from the external world for the reason that they always wantto secure themselves from the evils impurities of the society.However, this kind of detachment can make an individual to become tooentangled with God and affect how effective the family will deal withthe life cycle issues of the family and also how upright the maturityof the children will be. For the reason that Christians can turn intoa bunch of stubborn beings who would die sooner instead of changing,the family counselor can have a key test trying to transform them inthe direction of change(Tan, 2011, p.46).On the other hand of this extreme, families which have not embracedChristianity in a way can be too trapped in the earthly life andwidely be detached from God. What the structural family therapistusually strive to do is striking a balance so as to ensure thereexists equilibrium in the approach he is using to heal a sufferingfamily. The Christian family therapist might experience acorrespondingly challenging hurdle in attempts to inspire the familymembers to change for the best. Trying to bring sanity to the familyinvolves striking a balance so that an equilibrium is attained, sucha balance is an advantage as it prevents the consequences ofextremism(Tan, 2011, p.46). In myperspective, I share the same notion as my definition of an effectiveChristian excludes being overzealous. I picture a good Christian asone who have a life which is more balanced and this gives room forchange during the process of counselling as rigidity affects theprocess in a bad way.
Inthe development of the structural approach to family therapy thedeveloper was focusing on individuals within the family and theirinteractions within the family set-up. The main constructs for thisapproach are the family structure, their boundaries and theirsub-systems. These principles make up a stable ground from which onecan establish an integrated family counseling model. The objectivesof family counseling are to fortify the parental hierarchy, createflexible boundaries between members and their respective families,creation of clear boundaries and establishment of interactionspatterns that are more adaptive. In the light of Christianity, theseare goals which are in union with the scriptures from whichChristians derive their faith. The structural approach manages tostrengthen and stabilizes Christianity as it is a reminder of whatvirtuous things should be done. The counselor pursues to reinforcethe marital, parental, spiritual and the sibling sub-system in orderto assist each member of the family comprehend their role and placewithin the family. In my opinion it is like the therapist realizesthat God, who is a supreme being, in the end of it all has theappropriate solution for all the challenges in the families. Ittherefore gives them easy task of finding means of embedding theappropriate changes into the lives of the members of the family (Tan,2011, p.46).
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