Postmodern and Family Systems Approaches
The postmodern paradigm or worldview stands in stark contrast to the modernist, or traditionally scientific, worldview. The postmodern worldview states that the nature of reality exists within observational processes and is subjective in nature. Within the postmodern paradigm is the social constructive perspective, which asserts that the client’s perspective is reality, rather than assuming that the client’s perspective is inaccurate or irrational. Within this therapeutic perspective, narrative and solution-focused therapies were founded. Their commonalities include a focus on the use of language and a view that inherent in language is meaning. In addition, the therapeutic relationship is more important than techniques (Corey, 2013).
The family systems perspective operates in philosophical contrast with the traditional mental health counseling theories. The traditional theories focus on the individual, with attention to the individual’s internal processes. Although consideration is given to familial influences, they are conceptualized in a different way. From a systems perspective, individuals are understood best by examining their interactions between family members. This is based on the belief that one person’s behavior in the family is inextricably linked to the behaviors of others in the family system (Corey, 2013).
As you review these chapters, allow yourself to step outside of your knowledge box and fully understand the philosophical differences between the traditional mental health counseling theories and the postmodern and systems perspectives.
Corey, G. (2013). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (9th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Cengage-Brooks/Cole.
To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:
1. Identify the key concepts of solution-focused or narrative therapy that apply to a given case study.
2. Apply solution-focused or narrative theory to a given case study from the perspective of social or cultural diversity.
3. Evaluate the use of solution-focused or narrative therapy in practice.
4. Identify promising family therapy strategies from published research.
5. Evaluate the effectiveness of the family therapy approach you researched.
Learning Activities Studies
Use your Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy to complete the following:
• Read Chapter 13, “Postmodern Approaches,” and Chapter 14, “Family Systems Therapy,” pages 395–462.
Dulwich Centre Web Site Article
• Read Morgan’s 2000 article “What Is Narrative Therapy?” from the Dulwich Centre.
Optional Web Resources
The articles located on the Web site below are recommended but not required for this unit:
• Dulwich Centre: Popular Articles About Narrative Therapy and Community Work.
The following articles are recommended, but not required for this unit:
Solution focused therapy articles:
• Berg, I. K., & De Jong, P. (1996). Solution-building conversations: Co-constructing a sense of competence with clients. Families in Society, 77(6), 376–392.
• Corcoran, J., & Pillai, V. (2009). A review of the research on solution-focused therapy. British Journal of Social Work, 39(2), 234–242.
• Gingerich, W. J., & Eisengart, S. (2000). Solution-focused brief therapy: A review of the outcome research. Family Process, 39(4), 477–498.
• Kim, J. S., & Franklin, C. (2009). Solution-focused brief therapy in schools: A review of the outcome literature. Children and Youth Services Review, 31(4), 464–470.
• Meyer, D. D., & Cottone, R. R. (2013). Solution‐focused therapy as a culturally acknowledging approach with American Indians. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 41(1), 47–55.
Family therapy articles:
• Celano, M. P., Smith, C. O., Kaslow, N. J. (2010). A competency-based approach to couple and family therapy supervision. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 47(1), 35–44.
• Escudero, V., Boogmans, E., Loots, G., & Friedlander, M. L. (2012). Alliance rupture and repair in conjoint family therapy: An exploratory study. Psychotherapy, 49(1), 26–37.
• O’Farrell, T. J., & Clements, K. (2012). Review of outcome research on marital and family therapy in treatment for alcoholism. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(1), 122–144.
NOTE: Discussion 1: 1 page needed with 2 references.
Family Therapy Article
Locate a current article (from 2005 or later) in a peer-reviewed journal in the field of counseling and psychology on the topic of family therapy. (Do not use one of the articles already included in this unit.) Focus your search on the use of family therapy in relation to a population with whom you hope to work—such as adolescents with eating disorders, families with a member who is terminally ill, single parents, and so on. Find an article that describes or evaluates the application of this approach in a research or clinical setting.
• Summarize the key points of the article.
• Evaluate the ways in which these authors discussed or demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach in working with families.
• Identify various strategies you learned from this article that you can implement in your practicum and internship.
NOTE: Discussion 2: 1 page needed with 2 references.
Solution-Focused and Narrative Theories
For this discussion, you will apply either solution-focused, narrative, or systems therapy to the case of Henry (see the case study narrative The Case of Henry in the Resources). Specify how the theory would conceptualize his “problem,” identify what key concepts can be applied, and discuss two specific interventions you would use with this client. Be specific in your discussion. Identify a limitation of using the theory to this case. Keep in mind legal and ethical considerations as well.
Case Study: The Case of Henry
Presenting Information: Henry is a 46-year-old Japanese man. He was born in Japan and moved to the United States by himself when he was in his early 20s to go to college and work. He presents to counseling with multiple complaints of depressive symptoms, anxiety about being in social situations, relationship problems, and financial challenges. He reports feeling irritable and down most of the time but continues to go to work even though he does not have the energy. He also states that he experiences nervousness when he is around people at work and socially, so much so that he has begun to isolate himself. He feels afraid to talk to people because he thinks, “They will look at me like I am stupid and just walk away. So I just don’t talk to people. I am better off that way anyway because nobody understands my situation.” He states that it is difficult for him to come to counseling because his Japanese beliefs do not support counseling. Strong encouragement from one of his American friends convinced him to come.
Social History: Henry states that he was engaged to be married but his fiancée left him for another man about six months ago. They were together for about three years. Henry says, “I came home from work one day and she had all of her stuff packed. She told me she did not love me anymore, and then she left. I just did not know what to say or do, and ever since then I have been stuck.” His fiancée was Japanese, too, but was more Americanized than Henry feels he is. Even though he has lived in the United States for many years, he states that he tries to remain close to his cultural roots. Henry has never been married and does not have any children. He has a few friends but says that he does not spend much time with them anymore. He feels like they see him as weak because he cannot move on from the breakup. He was also involved in karate as a four-time black belt but has dropped out of the dojo.
Mental Health and Addictions History: Henry states that he has never been to counseling and has never abused any substances.
Family History: Henry’s family still live in Japan, and he feels that they have a close relationship. His parents are elderly and are very traditional in their Japanese ways, so he does not talk to him about his problems or about seeking counseling. He is an only child. Henry reports that while in high school he was bullied a lot by other students and frequently physically harmed. He tried to talk to his father, but his father said that he had to be a man and stand up for himself. Henry continued to be bullied but never spoke of it again. He said he had forgotten about the incidents for many years but has now begun to think about it more. He reports that he has even had nightmares about his coworkers and friends bullying him.
Occupational and Educational History: Henry has a bachelor’s degree in business and computer technology and is the information technology specialist at a local company. He is currently having financial problems due to his fiancée moving out and taking a substantial amount of money from their joint savings account.
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