Marriage and Family Therapy

Posted: October 23rd, 2013

Marriage & Family Therapy




Marriage & Family Therapy

Issue 1

The Contextual Model of Family Therapy, a family therapy model developed by Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy, combines the intrinsic aspects of family and personal life and progress. In scrutiny, the aspects that comprise family and individual development formulate the relationships and associations between persons. Therefore, the elements enable the relationships between the individual and other family members to express in different ways, which creates the context. The context refers to the interaction between the realities encompassing the person and the family. As such, these facets, which are four in number, comprise facts, individual psychologies, connections and relational ethics (Yarhouse & Sells, 2008). Nonetheless, even though the Contextual Model centers on these four aspects of expression, it is not restricted to other concepts that determine the manner in which the model will gain use in family therapy. Interestingly, these concepts interact together with the main facets of the model in order to achieve results. As such, one concept is the notion of Exoneration.

Boszormenyi-Nagy & Krasner (1986) defines exoneration as “a process of lifting the load of culpability off the shoulders of a given person whom heretofore we may have blamed” (as cited in Yarhouse & Sells, 2008, p.179). In the Contextual Model, exoneration marks the subsequent step in performing family therapy. As such, exoneration, which receives reference as restoration, is not possible without the inclusion of family salvage. Usually, in the event of seeking assistance, families struggle to exude honesty, truth and acceptance of the situational realities. As such, with respect to family salvage, households require assistance in modifying their patterns of breach of elements, such as love and trust, that impede essential family operations. At bottom, salvage means that the family knows how to handle their interactions in a manner that ceases the continuation of hurt and injury. Thus, this is impossible without the concept of exoneration, which involves forgiveness of the victim towards the victimizer. In turn, forgiveness allows both parties to rebuild their love and trust in a manner that restores familial associations.

Issue 2

Indeed, it is possible to associate the use of the Strategic Family Therapy Model with manipulation. This is because the Strategic model observes the subliminal messages within the communication among family members. As such, in respecting a family relationship, by obeying a single aspect of a message, the result involves injuring the association through disregard. Thus, misconstruction, dispute and pathology comprise the outcome of messages that affect and influence covertly (Yarhouse & Sells, 2008). In addition, the use of strategic therapy involves objectivity in the sense that the respective therapy is practical and realistic. Usually, the strategic therapist concentrates on the single problem within the family and deduces a strategy that focuses on mitigation of the problem. In essence, the strategy that the therapist formulates is a directive that the respective family should perform irrespective of its discomfort. Another manner in which strategic therapy applying involves the integration of paradox while using the client’s resistance.

According to Yarhouse & Sells (2008), paradox gains use as a technique to force and manipulate in rational, ethical and liable terms. As a manipulative tactic, a paradox in strategic therapy involves the inculcation of alternative methods, unlike dictatorship and coerces strategies, which enable the therapist to achieve outcomes. This is because the therapist does not hold the power to alter a rigid family system. As such, the tactics the therapist uses face resistance from the family members. Actually, the therapist exerts alternative control by asserting power in a manner that hinders the family members from resisting the directives provided by the therapist. Thus, this presents ethical concern especially in distinguishing between good and bad manipulation. Nonetheless, such a distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ manipulation is impossible based on the assertion that in either way manipulative power is concentrated within the therapist. As such, strategic therapy, in its manipulative form, cushions resistance and is, thus, helpful for belligerent families and resistant ones.



















Yarhouse, M. A., & Sells, J. N. (2008). Family therapies: A comprehensive Christian appraisal. Downers Grove: IVP Academic.

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