A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Family Therapy

  • Catherine Crowther


The families I work with are young. They are families in the making, with children still at home, tackling the ordinary but awesome responsibilities of procreation, nurture, socialisation, and the launching of offspring into adult life. They learn about dependence and individuation, sharing and fighting, continuity and change. These opposite poles represent the human ambivalence towards change with which psychoanalysis has always been so intimately concerned. It is a central theme also in family therapy. Minuchin and Fishman (1981) write of ‘the family’s essential tasks of supporting individuation while providing a sense of belonging’, which echoes Gordon (1973), a Jungian analyst, who speaks of ‘the two most fundamental and basic archetypal themes … our need for union on the one hand, and our need for differentiation and separateness on the other.’ It is the difficulties encountered in this human condition which are the bread and butter of both family therapy and psychoanalysis.


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© Catherine Crowther 1988

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  • Catherine Crowther

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