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Value systems and psychopathology in family therapy

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Two sets of values—the “continuity” and the “discontinuity”—are readily apparent in family conflict. Pathogenic relating erupts after an impasse between the sets of values. Husband-wife conflict, parent-child conflict, and conflict between the family and neighborhood or community are described in terms of conflict in value systems. Family therapy is a method for influencing the value systems.

Each of the three role functions of the family therapist—the go-between, the side-taker, and the celebrant—expresses both “continuity” and “discontinuity” values which are described. Depending on his assessment of pathogenic relating and other features of family dysfunction, the therapist selectively expresses values that serve to disrupt and then repair destructive family interaction.

The process of engaging families in therapy is crucial because many families, especially those that are poor and uneducated, do not like to sit and talk about problems. Short-term therapy works best with the majority of poor, uneducated families; it even works best with middle-class families. Short-term therapy works mainly because it least violates value expectations the majority of families have about therapy.

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Correspondence to Gerald H. Zuk.

Additional information

An invited presentation for the First International Congress of Family Therapy held in Tel Aviv, Israel, in February, 1976. A brief version of this paper is scheduled forPsychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, Vol. 15, No. 1, 1978, but due to an extraordinary delay in publication of the above-named journal, the lengthier version here may actually appear in print first. The possibility is mutually acknowledged by the editors of both journals.

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Zuk, G.H. Value systems and psychopathology in family therapy. International Journal of Family Therapy 1, 133–151 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00926713

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  • Health Psychology
  • Social Issue
  • Family Therapy
  • Family Conflict
  • Family Interaction