Family Systems Therapy

FST perspective relies upon the assumption that psychological issues are developed and maintained in the social context of families. Such view implies that the therapist should pay attention to the entire family of the patient instead of focusing almost exclusively on the individual needs and symptoms of the patient. Modern forms of FST employ a wide range of methods and techniques from the field of psychotherapy, systems theory, systemic coaching, and communication theory and tend to incorporate several psychotherapeutic approaches including cognitive therapy, narrative perspectives, social constructionist approach, intergenerational theory, etc. (Nichols &amp. Schwartz, 1998). Such variety of paradigms incorporated in FST is due to exceptionally complex, multilateral and multilevel nature of human interactions within the family setting.
1. Experiential: this approach, also termed Symbolic-Experiential Family therapy, was founded by Carl Whitaker in the 1960’s. The experiential approach, as its name suggested, emphasized the role of immediate ongoing experience, required the therapist conducting treatment to be active and directive, and stressed the importance of going beyond the tenets of traditional theory. Virginia Satir was another recognized contributor and proponent of the experiential approach (Fraenkel, 1997).
2. Family Systems: this approach founded by Murray Bowen revolves around eight basic concepts, namely Emotional Triangles (three-person relationship system considered the smallest building block of a wider network), Differentiation of Self (psychological liberation of intellect and emotion from the family influences, independence of the self from others), Nuclear Family Emotional System (encompasses 4 primary patterns of relations that affect development of problems in the family context), Family Projection Process (the basic way in which parents transmit their psychological problems to their children), Multigenerational Transmission Process (the way in which smaller dysfunctional patterns are accumulated and passed from one generation to another, which eventually leads to serious psychological problems), Emotional Cutoff (the way of managing emotional problems that emerge in the family by cutting off any emotional contacts with other members), Sibling Position (this concept relies on the research of Walter Toman and explains the mechanism of how position of the sibling affects behavior and psychological development of other family members), and Societal Emotional Process (explains how the emotional system influences an individual’s behavior on a broader societal level). These concepts fully clarify the basic goals of treatment and role of therapist in the Family Systems approach:
The person should be detriangulated from the emotional setting within her family context.
The system of relations between the spouses or members of family must be adequately defined and clarified to the fullest extent possible.
The person must be fully aware of the function of emotional systems.
The person must demonstrating differentiation from the