Assignment: Structural Versus Strategic Family Therapies

Although structural therapy and strategic therapy are both used in family therapy, these therapeutic approaches have many differences in theory and application. As you assess families and develop treatment plans, you must consider these differences and their potential impact on clients. For this Assignment, as you compare structural and strategic family therapy, consider which therapeutic approach you might use with your own client families Assignment: Structural Versus Strategic Family Therapies.

Learning Objectives
Students will:
Compare structural family therapy to strategic family therapy
Create structural family maps
Justify recommendations for family therapy
To prepare:
Review this week’s Learning Resources and reflect on the insights they provide on structural and strategic family therapies.
Refer to Gerlach (2015) in this week’s Learning Resources for guidance on creating a structural family map.
The Assignment
In a 2- to 3-page paper, address the following: Assignment: Structural Versus Strategic Family Therapies

Summarize the key points of both structural family therapy and strategic family therapy.
Compare structural family therapy to strategic family therapy, noting the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Provide an example of a family in your practicum using a structural family map. Note: Be sure to maintain HIPAA regulations.
Recommend a specific therapy for the family, and justify your choice using the Learning Resources.

Compare structural family therapy to strategic family therapy and create structural family maps essay Assignment: Structural Versus Strategic Family Therapies

Structural and Strategic Family Therapies sample essay



Structural and Strategic Family Therapies

Family therapy is a significant component of psychotherapy aimed at investigating and instigating appropriate changes for the welfare of a family. Although therapists have a wide array of models to employ in their work, a greater emphasis and theoretical development have focused on structural and strategic therapy models. Consequently, this paper provides an analysis of the two models highlighting their underlying similarities and differences, finally, an example and justification of one model application will be provided Assignment: Structural Versus Strategic Family Therapies.

Structural family therapy

Structural family therapy is premised on refining self-esteem among individuals and family networks. According to Nichols and Tafuri (2013), a structural model emphasizes on intervention techniques aimed primarily at changing the family members perception in diagnosing and treating the dysfunction. Further, Williams, (2016)), argues that in a diagnosis an underlying dysfunction, a therapist can utilize a family structure map to determine the root cause, after which an integrative therapeutic approach is initiated. In this regard, structural family therapy entails analyzing how interactions between family members fuel a specific dysfunction and realign the family perception. The fundamental tenet of this model is that by retaining a balance in the structural interaction, the problem is solved Assignment: Structural Versus Strategic Family Therapies.

Strategic family therapy

On the other hand, strategic family therapy is centered on a planned problem-solving approach to address a dysfunction. According to Lindstrom, Filges, and Jorgensen (2015), in addressing the underlying problem, the model embarks in the provision of directives, which assist in diagnosing the condition. Moreover, the family members are involved in facilitating a behavioral change in the victim by eliminating unfavorable contacts. In the case of a relapse in maladaptive interactions, Lindstrom, Filges, and Jorgensen, 2015 observes that the patients’ relatives are advised to engage in pernicious behaviors thus facilitating improved interactions Assignment: Structural Versus Strategic Family Therapies

Models Compared

In comparison, the two models are centered on facilitating behavioral change, improved communication, and elimination of dysfunctional interactions through the family network. As such, the main objective of both models is the elimination of maladaptive practice affecting an individual and their families. Moreover, Schwartz, Muir and Brown, (2012) observe that both models although employing different techniques, they objectively change the family structure thus maintaining the appropriate family balance. However, Sheehan, and Friedlander (2015), argue that while the models might harbor similarities, it is the role of the family therapist to determine the model of choice while diagnosing and solving the problem. Finally, Schwartz, Muir and Brown, (2012), that both models have been used effectively to address behavioral problems among the youths Assignment: Structural Versus Strategic Family Therapies.

Key Differences and weakness

The key difference in both models revolves around the approach employed in facilitating a change in the family system. According to Schwartz, Muir and Brown (2012), structural family planning is focused on changing the dysfunctional family structure. However, the model has been criticized as disregarding the basic family structure in nuclear families. On the other hand, strategic family planning centers on a relational strategy in enacting a family change which has been criticized as narrow, and limiting the freedom of the families involved Assignment: Structural Versus Strategic Family Therapies

Example of a family in practicum using a structural family map

A case in example to explore the application of family therapy is provided below. Employing the structural family map, the case can be presented as shown in below.

In this regard, the family hierarchy seemed mixed up with the mother seemingly highly involved albeit a controlling child, however, although the father was available there was little or no cooperation among the parents. However, the underlying problem was that the parents had been unable to control their teenage son who had developed outrageous behavior, including taking drugs skipping school and petty theft habits. Additionally, their older son was highly perturbed by the indiscipline of her sister and was always in conflict with her. Further, the son had elevated his domination and had started criticizing the parents for their inability to foster discipline. Apparently, the father had resigned placing the blame on the mother for the daughter’s actions Assignment: Structural Versus Strategic Family Therapies.

Therapy Recommendation For the family

The best therapeutic approach for this case would be the structural family therapy. According to Sheehan, and Friedlander (2015), The efficacy of structural family therapy emanates from its ability to allow a therapist to incorporate case specific creativity while retaining the core therapy needs. . As such, this model capitalizes on the structure of the family interactions while continually enhancing necessary changes until the optimal results are obtained Assignment: Structural Versus Strategic Family Therapies.

Justification of the model

The structural therapy model is most suited for our case, since it is apparent that the overall relationships between the family members are deeply dented. In this regard, the structural therapy model would successfully rebuild an interdependent relationship between the parents since its core strategy is codified in analyzing how the dysfunction of the family coalitions fuels the underlying problem (Schwartz, Muir & Brown, 2012). Further, since the structural approach involves all the family members in its analysis, it is best suited in cases whereby varying factors may be contributing to the visible problem Assignment: Structural Versus Strategic Family Therapies.


Lindstrom, M., Filges, T., & Jorgensen, A. K. (2014). Brief Strategic Family Therapy for Young People in Treatment for Drug Use. Research on Social Work Practice,25(1), 61-80. doi:10.1177/1049731514530003

Nichols, M., & Tafuri, S. (2013). Techniques of Structural Family Assessment: A Qualitative Analysis of How Experts Promote a Systemic Perspective. Family Process,52(2), 207-215. doi:10.1111/famp.12025. Compare structural family therapy to strategic family therapy and create structural family maps essay.

Schwartz, S. J., Muir, J. A., & Brown, C. H. (2012). Brief strategic family therapy: An intervention to reduce adolescent risk behavior. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice,1(2), 134-145. doi:10.1037/a0029002

Sheehan, A. H., & Friedlander, M. L. (2015). Therapeutic Alliance and Retention in Brief Strategic Family Therapy: A Mixed-Methods Study. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy,41(4), 415-427. doi:10.1111/jmft.12113

Williams, A. E. (2016). The Viability of Structural Family Therapy in the Twenty-first Century: An Analysis of Key Indicators. Contemporary Family Therapy,38(3), 255-261. doi:10.1007/s10591-016-9383-9 Assignment: Structural Versus Strategic Family Therapies.

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