Structural family therapy, a social work practicum

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Caners, Marie
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Structural family therapy has persisted over the years and its core constructs are still taught and utilized. Understanding and acquiring a solid grasp of the concepts of boundaries, subsystems and hierarchy are important first steps in the practice of family therapy. It is a useful framework for a broad range of therapeutic techniques, whether structural or otherwise. This practicum offers an extensive literature review on the model and this forms the base from which the writer explores the use of the model with diverse families. The writer provides a detail analysis with two of the seven families seen as part of the practicum experience. The analysis is based on an assessment model taken from the structural family therapy literature which includes a review of the following areas: the family structure, flexibility of the system, where the family falls along the continuum of enmeshed-disengaged, family's sources of support and stress, the family's developmental stage and ways the identified patient's symptoms are used for maintaining the family's transactional patterns. Evaluation of the practicum is based on the use of the FAM III, a client satisfaction questionnaire and the therapist's observations. The writer further examines emerging themes. The use of the family life cycle framework and how it complements structural family therapy, the use of a strengths based model and aspects to consider in working with stepfamilies are areas explored in the common themes chapter. In conclusion the writer reflects on her learning experience.