Structural Family Therapy: Techniques & Benefits

Last Update on December 6, 2022 : Published on December 6, 2022

Structural family therapy is a type of family therapy that focuses solely on interacting with family members and improving their interpersonal relationships. Family therapies can be useful in many conditions.

It is helpful for dysfunctional families or individuals who claim that the spice of their problems is their family. Sometimes you need to give counseling or some therapeutic guidance to the family members too because they don’t realize how impactful their behavior and actions are.

Structural family therapy works exactly in such conditions. The family’s interpersonal relationships play a vital role in increasing or decreasing an individual’s mental well-being. Today we will be looking at what structural family therapy is, what techniques they use and how beneficial it can be.

Shall we begin?

What Is Structural Family Therapy?


Structural family therapy comes under the umbrella of family system therapies. Structural family therapy was first designed by Salvador Minuchin, who began working on it during the early 1960s.

The main goal of structural family therapy is to identify and address the dysfunctional patterns of interaction between that family member that is contributing to conflict. The therapy also focuses on improving the interaction and relationship between the family member so that a healthy family structure is achieved.

In structural family therapy, the therapist begins with establishing the current structure of the family. Followed by the actions, behaviors, and interactions that are contributing to the dysfunctionality of the family. Once the status and problems have been identified, they begin working on improving the family structure or addressing the problem.

Also Read: Strategic Family Therapy: Types, Techniques, Benefits, Effectiveness, And More

Structural Family Therapy Techniques

One of the main techniques used in structural family therapy is family mapping. In family mapping, the therapist creates a map for the family including their names, ages, responsibilities, behaviors, relationships with one another, etc.

Family mapping helps the therapist uncover hidden behavior patterns and family interactions. In this technique, the main things that are observed are family rules, patterns of behavior, and family structure/hierarchies.

During this technique, the therapist frequently asks the family members to make their family maps. This allows the therapist and family members to understand each family member better and encourages engagement within the family.

Other than family mapping, structural family therapy can make use of some other techniques as well. Such as;

  • Joining: in this technique, the therapist focuses on togetherness. Works on building an empathetic relationship among family members.
  • Boundary-making: the therapist helps the entire family build clear boundaries within the family.
  • Role-play: in this, the family members engage in role-play to understand others’ points of view and thought processes as well.
  • Reframing: in this technique, the therapist makes the family members think of a situation and then reframe their thoughts about that situation. It is called cognitive reframing.

Also Read: “I Feel No Connection To My Family”: Can It Be A Sign Of Family Estrangement?


Benefits of Structural Family Therapy

One of the most beneficial things about structural family therapy is that it caters to a lot of family-related issues. Structural family therapy can work with families affected by trauma, divorce, separation, or remarriage, blended families, intergenerational families, single-parent families, families with mental health issues, etc.

Let’s look at a few things structural family therapy can help with;

  • Improves communication
  • Increases parental competence and satisfaction
  • Helps individuals improve their reactions to changing demands
  • Establishes healthy boundaries
  • Improves hierarchies within the family system
  • Reduces anger and resentment
  • Improves relationship dynamics
  • Corrects imbalances within a family

The best part about structural family therapy is that it focuses on the family as a unit. Sometimes it’s the environment a person is living in that is triggering mental issues in a person. Structural family therapy does it, it helps all the family members to understand each other.

This understanding can then be used to create a growth-promoting environment at home. The person who is dealing with a mental illness can feel safe and understood by their family members if the family works as a unit. And that’s the main aim of structural family therapy.

That’s All Folks!

I hope you found this blog about structural family therapy helpful, informative, and thought-provoking. Family and friends have a huge influence on an individual’s mental health. And structural family therapy tries to make that influence a positive and healthy one.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and stay safe.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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