Family Therapy Over Time
For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories
In Family Therapy Over Time, Dr. Susan H. McDaniel demonstrates this approach to working with clients. Family therapy focuses on changing interactions among people so as to alleviate a client family's presenting problem. Although family therapists ideally want to involve as many family members in the therapy as possible, family therapy may be conducted with a single client. Whether working with one client or a family unit, therapists look at the family system, as well as the community, school, or work systems, to determine ways to help clients improve their lives.
In this series of six sessions, Dr. McDaniel works with a mother, father, and one of their daughters, a teenager from the mother's previous marriage. The family presents with what they call a communication breakdown between the daughter and her mother, as well as with conflict over the daughter's sexual activity with her boyfriend.
In the early sessions, Dr. McDaniel gathers information from the family to create a genogram—a diagram that depicts the family genealogical relationships and the history and quality of those relationships. In ongoing sessions, the genogram will help Dr. McDaniel and the family understand how the system of interactions in the immediate family and in past generations may contribute to the issues they are presently working on.
Family therapy focuses on changing relational interactions among people, whether the people involved are a couple, a nuclear or extended family, or a family working with other systems in the community. Although family therapists usually prefer to have access to multiple family members, they can work with just one individual. Similarly, family therapists apply their systems approach by forging collaborative relationships between families and community organizations that serve families.
Family therapy may be used to treat the whole gamut of psychological and relational problems treated by psychotherapists, plus other problems treated by teams of medical and psychological professionals.
Central to family therapy is the focus on changing relationships and interactions as a way to treat human problems. This does not imply that relationship problems are the only source of psychological problems; most contemporary family therapists accept that problems can have biological, psychological, social, cultural, and environmental sources. Nor does the emphasis on relationships and interactions imply that family therapists do not use models and tools of individual psychotherapy; it is just they focus on healing people's relationships as a primary pathway to recovery.
Although there are different models of family therapy, the heart of all these therapies is systems theory, which arose from 20th century biology, physics, chemistry, and cybernetics. These fields contributed to the main precept of family therapy, that individual or family problems cannot be resolved without first understanding the client's larger system or environment.
Therapy begins with efforts to gather information about the client's system of relationships, and to define the presenting problem. Early in the process, the therapist helps set the goal for therapy. Goal-setting is a combined effort involving the therapist and client and every member of the family present.
Techniques used in family therapy include enactment, externalization of the problem, family sculpting, and genograms.
Enactment is where the therapist helps the client bring the presenting problem into the room, often by having the client act out a situation in their life, so that it can be looked at and worked on.
Externalizing a problem involves moving an issue a client may have to a place outside the client so it can be observed and where it does not evoke as much of a sense of guilt or blame—for instance, asking a client with an illness to describe what the illness looks like, or even what color it is.
Family sculpting is where one family member physically positions other family members in the form of a sculpture that represents the way the sculptor views the family as functioning.
Genograms are diagrams, superficially similar to a family tree, that depict not only family genealogical relationships, but the quality and history of those relationships. The therapist creates a genogram by asking questions about the family and shows the family the diagram as it is being created.
Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, is the Dr. Laurie Sands Distinguished Professor of Families & Health, director of the Institute for the Family & the Wynne Center for Family Research in the Department of Psychiatry, and associate chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York.
She is nationally and internationally known for her publications on family therapy, families and health, and family therapy training. Her special areas of interest are behavioral health in primary care, and family dynamics and genetic conditions. She is a frequent speaker at meetings of both health and mental health professionals.
Dr. McDaniel has been recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA) as the 1995 Family Psychologist of the Year. She received the award for Innovative Contributions to Family Therapy from the American Family Therapy Academy in 2000, the award for Distinguished Contribution to Education from the Association of Medical School Psychologists in 2004, and the American Psychological Foundation Cummings PSYCHE Prize in 2007.
Dr McDaniel was chair of the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education in 1998, president of Division 43 (Family Psychology) of the American Psychological Association in 2000, and chair of the APA Publications and Communications Board in 2003.
As a representative of APA, Dr. McDaniel was the first psychologist to complete the Bureau of Health Professions Primary Care Policy fellowship in 1998. She is currently on the board of the American Family Therapy Academy, and the APA Council of Representatives and Committee for the Advancement of Professional Psychology.
Dr. McDaniel is coeditor (with Thomas Campbell, MD), of the multidisciplinary journal, Families, Systems & Health. She co-authored or co-edited the following books: Systems Consultation (1986); Family-Oriented Primary Care (1990 and 2005); Medical Family Therapy (1992); Integrating Family Therapy (1995); Counseling Families with Chronic Illness (1995); The Shared Experience of Illness (1997); Casebook for Integrating Family Therapy (2001); Primary Care Psychology (2004); The Biopsychosocial Approach: Past, Present, and Future (2004); Individuals, Families, and the New Era of Genetics (2007) and Family Therapy (2009). Her books have been translated into German, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Romanian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish.
- Doherty, W., & McDaniel, S. H. (2009). Family therapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- McDaniel, S. H., Hepworth, J., & Doherty, W. (1992). Medical family therapy: A biopsychosocial approach to families with health problems (pp. 152–183). New York: Basic Books.
- Mikesell, R., Lusterman, D. D., & McDaniel, S. H. (Eds.). (1995). Integrating family therapy: Handbook of family psychology and systems theory. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- McDaniel, S. H., Lusterman, D. D., & Philpot, C. (Eds.). (2001). A casebook for integrating family therapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Counseling Clients Who Have Difficulty Getting Pregnant Again
Susan H. McDaniel
- Counseling Clients Who Have Trouble Conceiving
Susan H. McDaniel
- Family Therapy With Patients Having Physical Health Problems
Susan H. McDaniel
- Functional Family Therapy
James F. Alexander
- Functional Family Therapy for High-Risk Adolescents
James F. Alexander
- Individual Therapy From a Family Systems Perspective
Florence W. Kaslow
- Integrative Family Therapy
- Multidimensional Family Therapy
Howard A. Liddle
- Stepfamily Therapy in Practice
- Casebook for Integrating Family Therapy: An Ecosystemic Approach
Edited by Susan H. McDaniel, Don-David Lusterman, and Carol L. Philpot
- Couples Coping With Stress: Emerging Perspectives on Dyadic Coping
Edited by Tracey A. Revenson, Karen Kayser, and Guy Bodenmann
- Emotion-Focused Couples Therapy: The Dynamics of Emotion, Love, and Power
Leslie S. Greenberg and Rhonda N. Goldman
- Enhanced Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy for Couples: A Contextual Approach
Norman B. Epstein and Donald H. Baucom
- Family Psychology: Science-Based Interventions
Edited by Howard A. Liddle, Daniel A. Santisteban, Ronald F. Levant, and James H. Bray
- Feminist Family Therapy: Empowerment in Social Context
Edited by Louise B. Silverstein and Thelma Jean Goodrich
- Integrating Family Therapy: Handbook of Family Psychology and Systems Theory
Edited by Richard H. Mikesell, Don-David Lusterman, and Susan H. McDaniel
- Intervening in Children's Lives: An Ecological, Family-Centered Approach to Mental Health Care
Thomas J. Dishion, PhD and Elizabeth A. Stormshak
- Primary Care Psychology
Edited by Robert G. Frank, Susan H. McDaniel, James H. Bray, and Margaret Heldring
- Therapeutic Alliances in Couple and Family Therapy: An Empirically Informed Guide to Practice
Myrna L. Friedlander, Valentín Escudero, and Laurie Heatherington
- Family Therapy
This book discuss the history, theory, and practice of family therapy, a systems-oriented therapy.