The Strategic Family Therapy for a Family in Crisis

TheStrategic Family Therapy for a Family in Crisis

TheStrategic Family Therapy for a Family in Crisis

StrategicFamily Therapy (SFT) is designed for helping to find solutions to thepeoples’ problems. The theory focuses on the alteration of thefamily dynamics, elimination of the problems while concentrating onthe presentation of the problems and sometimes giving behavioraltasks and homework to the client. The strategic family therapy placesa strong belief in the systems, particularly the family systems. Theybelieve that the whole family should be part of the therapy andinterventions. The main belief that the strategic family therapy ismajorly based on is that there is a strategy, a tactic, a plan,whatever the situation is to create change. Each family and therapistcan have different beliefs, but they strive for the healthier change.

Actingas the Strategic Family Therapist

Thestrategic family therapist usually starts by getting to know theclient (the family in crisis) on a personal level. Acting as thecurious support, the family therapist assesses the family’ssituation through the use of the conversations that seeks tocomprehend the client’s perspective regarding the familycrisis/problem. As the therapist starts developing an understanding,she or he can then negotiate the therapeutic contract. Maintaining aclose relationship with the family helps in the reduction of theresistance to the therapist’s suggestions. However, in situationswhere the client is resistant (aggressive), the strategic familytherapist uses various techniques in addressing the resistance. Thesecan include the paradoxical directives and ordeals. For instance, insituations where the direct conversation about the crisis isdifficult for the client, the therapist can use the metaphoricconversation. This allows the family in crisis to address theirissues without little defense. However, it’s important to note thatthese techniques are only applicable in the context of the strongtherapeutic alliance.

Workingfrom the developmental framework, the therapist places himself orherself at the center of the family in crisis to develop and executethe plan of addressing the problem. As part of the planning process,the therapist assesses the context that ensures maintenance of theproblem and the resources available to help the family. However, asthe problem and the context supporting the challenge changes, thefamily therapist then focuses on maintaining and supporting the newsystem. This can be partially by attributing the success of thetherapy to the family in crisis. It’s also important to note thatthe family rules play a critical role in governing the familybehavior. In such a situation, the change is required not only in theproblem behavior but also in the underlying rule.

Thecreation of a Healthy change in a family that is in crisis is one ofthe difficult tasks of the family therapist. There are a variety oftechniques or the intervention strategies that can be utilized.Refraining is one of the perfect examples of the interventioninvolving the strategic approach to the therapy. This type oftechnique involves relabeling the problems through viewing them inthe most positive light (Parrot, 2003). As a family therapist for afamily in crisis, the use of the boundary setting and monitoringcommunication can be fundamental to building the trust and privacy.The strategic therapist can also use the family sculpting whereby heor she asks the family member to position himself or herself and therest of the family members into a certain arrangement that is ametaphoric representation of the family’s relationship (Parrot,2003). This type of the intervention is a representation of thefamily’s relationship, and it’s useful in that it helps thefamily in crisis to be cognizant of the unknown systems dynamics(Papp, 1976). The therapist can also issue the “homework” for thefamily in crisis as part of the technique to create the change andthen monitor the progress.

Inconclusion, the strategic family therapist approach is used to helpfamilies ranging from the drug abusers to the troubled marriedcouples. The use of the strategic planning and creation of the changecan help the families in crisis to change the behaviors.


Papp,P. (1976). Family choreography. In P. J. Guerin (Ed.), Familytherapy: Theory and practice (pp. 465–479). New York: GardnerPress.

ParrottIII, L. (2003) Counseling and psychotherapy (2nd Ed.). PacificGrove, CA: Thomson/Brooks/Cole.