Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Family Development in Structural Family Therapy

  • Jorge Colapinto
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_965


Structural family therapy views the family as “an open sociocultural system that is continually transformed” (Minuchin 1974, p. 51) as it adapts to internal and external changes.

Theoretical Context

To describe family dynamics, structural family therapy relies on biosocial metaphors. The chapter on families in Family Therapy Techniques (Minuchin and Fishman 1981) opens with a quotation from Thomas: “There is a tendency for living things to join up, establish linkages, live inside each other, return to earlier arrangements, get along whenever possible. This is the way of the world” (Thomas 1974, p. 147).

The family’s current relational patterns are seen as the result of the family members’ continuous adjustment to each other’s preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. The origin of those patterns “is buried in years of explicit and implicit negotiations among family members, often around small daily events. Frequently the nature of the original contracts has been forgotten,...

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  1. Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Minuchin, S., & Fishman, H. C. (1981). Family therapy techniques. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Minuchin, S., et al. (2007). Assessing families and couples: From symptom to system. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  4. Thomas, L. (1974). The lives of a cell: Notes of a biology watcher. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jorge Colapinto
    • 1
  1. 1.Minuchin Center for the FamilyWoodburyUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • David Kearns
    • 1
  • Bahareh Sahebi
    • 2
  1. 1.Iowa CityUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA