The problem as viewed by structural and experiential family therapists
A structural family therapist is concerned with addressing problems that arise as from family dysfunctions. An experiential family therapist analyzes the problems that could make family members not become self-actualized. (Gurman & Kniskern, 2014; Spillers, 2007). The following could be common features in the two forms of family therapy:
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- Utilization of family history
- Adoption of counseling
- Use of follow-ups
- Use of family therapy techniques
- Analysis of family interactions and communication levels
Although the two forms of family therapy could have the above comparisons, they could also be characterized by some differences (contrasts). A structural family therapist could view the problem of the child by understanding relationships within the family of the child (Gurman & Kniskern, 2014). For example, a structural family therapist could focus on deciphering how the child interacts with other family members.
Family relationships greatly determine how a child grows up within the family. A structural family therapist could attempt to know why the other family members such as the father and siblings do not live with the child. He or she could concentrate on knowing how the mother and grandmother contribute to the health status of the child. Such a therapist could hypothesize that the child has developed school phobia because of unhealthy relationships at home (Gurman & Kniskern, 2014).
On the other hand, an experiential family therapist could view the school phobia problem from a broader perspective than that adopted by a structural family therapist. Such a therapist could not view family members as the source of the problem (Gurman & Kniskern, 2014; Spillers, 2007). The focus could be on how family interactions could have made the child develop school phobia.
Communication is important for the well-being of all family members. Therefore, an experiential family therapist could concentrate on understanding the quality of communication within the family. In order to know the details of family relationships, an experiential family therapist could be emotionally involved with the child and other family members. He or she could utilize subjective experience and assessment of the child’s needs (Gurman & Kniskern, 2014; Spillers, 2007).
Goals and techniques
The two kinds of family therapists could view the problem from different perspectives. Therefore, they could aim at achieving different goals through the use of various techniques (Gurman & Kniskern, 2014).
One goal of a structural family therapist could be to ensure that family structures are not disrupted. This could be achieved by ensuring that power in the family is distributed to all family members. This could greatly improve the quality of communication within the family. Also, a structural family therapist could focus on the provision of options with regard to solving problems. Techniques that a structural family therapist could use involve the following:
- Attachment-focused family therapy
- Relationship education.
An experiential family therapist could aim at achieving quality communication within the family of the affected child (Gurman & Kniskern, 2014). Also, such a therapist could focus on making family members assume high levels of personal independence. In addition, an experiential family therapist could work to achieve the goal of making family members have greater satisfaction. The following techniques could be used by an experiential family therapist:
- Communication theory.
- Reality therapy.
- Systemic coaching.
Gurman, A. S., & Kniskern, D. P. (Eds.). (2014). Handbook of family therapy. London, United Kingdom: Routledge.
Spillers, C. S. (2007). An existential framework for understanding the counseling needs of clients. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 16(3), 191-197.