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Family group as a field of intervention


The family as a group is organized through the bonds that define it as such: bonds of union, bonds of parental and fraternal filiation, in their inter- and transgenerational dimensions.

The family group was not always considered in its totality as a whole, as a union; on the contrary, for a long time, the reductionist approach took each individual separately. Thanks to successful research in the field of psychiatry, it was possible to create a new systemic approach that takes the family as a group, where all its parts are directly related.

History of family therapy

There are two key groups in the history of family therapy . The first group follows the current of psychoanalysis and the second group, created later, focuses more on the anthropological vision of man, studying human behavior in an integral way.

As early as the early 20th century, elements of family therapy could be found in family-centered social work and in the work of child psychoanalysts and psychiatrists , such as Nathan Ackerman – considered the forerunner of family therapy.

Like several psychiatrists and psychologists of the time, Ackerman (1930) theorizes that the psychological well-being of the individual is directly related to the condition of the family.

Ackerman incorporates ideas from both traditional psychodynamic therapy and family systems therapy into his practice, emphasizing that the family is a social unit. After the publication of his two most important books – “Family Diagnosis” and “The Family Unit” – together with his colleague Don Jackson, Ackerman established the professional magazine, Family Process; which to this day continues to be considered one of the main resources in the field of family mental health and family therapy

Later, in the early 1950s, the American psychiatrist Murray Bowen sought a novel and alternative approach to traditional family therapy , giving rise to systemic family therapy. For Bowen, the family was the original thought of traditional psychology, and it was the basic unit of emotional functioning .

Family systems theory extends beyond the family to non-family groups, including large organizations and society in general. It uses systems thinking to describe the complex interactions within the unit.

Systemic family therapy was formally accepted in the psychotherapeutic community in the 1960s and has continued to evolve over the years.

Intervention in the family group

The family group is the empirical , concrete level on which it intervenes clinically. Intervention that is born and built in the encounter, in that clash of singularities that occurs in that cross-section, of the longitude of a family history.

Intervening not only refers to therapeutic mediation , since it is possible to intervene in turn from the diagnostic, prognostic and prophylactic levels in the bonding dynamic, but beyond this, it is important to ask ourselves about our way of mediating.

The intervention in social psychology will have as a founding act the expression of the demand, which from the Pichonian theory comes to be enunciated and denounced by the spokesperson of the family group. That is, the psychologist intervenes because he is called to intervene . And the purpose of the intervention is that the processes of change can emerge in that mediating or provocative encounter that this implies. Meanwhile, it has the object and effect of bringing to light the informal processes that act more or less clandestinely.

You may also be interested in:   Oedipus Complex: What is it, how does it arise and what are the effects of unresolved oedipus?

To intervene is to come between, to interpose, it is synonymous with mediation, intersection, help, support; but in another context it can be synonymous with meddling, intrusion in which violent intervention can become a regulatory mechanism. In all of them the intervention appears as the act of a third party that occurs in relation to a pre-existing state. The human sciences give it a more technical and precise meaning. In clinical psychology , it is the act in which the psychologist establishes a certain type of human relationship between himself and the subject, which can induce a dynamic that has a therapeutic nature, that is, it promotes changes.

From Pichón Riviere, the process of becoming ill is conceived as a difficulty in the ability to actively adapt to reality, its difference enables illness. Faced with this maladjustment, stereotypy is used. The intervention would aim in this sense, that is, to avoid stereotyping the possible responses to different situations and thus generate health.

Rivière proposed that psychosis in a family member is an emergency that involves the entire family group. This statement arose thanks to his research work in the psychiatric hospital, which led him to think about a conception of the bond, in the internal group, in mental illness. For this author, the patient is the strongest member of the family group since it is he who assumes the weight of the family conflict, by assuming it, and this provides a psychic economy for the whole.

For social psychology,  intervention becomes an applied clinical procedure where research and practice can be advantageously brought together. Even before distinguishing as an approach methodology within organizations, intervention is associated, in a technical sense, but more restricted to all training practices.

The role of the family therapist

The family therapist’s primary role is to help families discover their own power, identify their strengths, and help them define what kind of family they intend to be. He must show honest reactions to families, praising and setting limits ; it should encourage them to take an honest look at their behavior and lifestyle and provide you with tools to help them make decisions about what they want to change.

The person in charge in family therapy will make them know the power of using their lives as an instrument of change; By openly sharing your relationship issues and your own values, you will be able to brainstorm and gain another view of things.

The therapist must always keep in mind the importance of the influence of his behavior in the family group and must not be critical; if genuine, respectful, understanding. You must also understand that family therapy is not a separate and distinct science of behavior.

It takes into account the power of each role of family members, the power struggle between peers -for example: father-mother-, and avoids abstract intellectualization, labeling, interpretation and excessive verbiage.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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