Sample Psychology Research Paper on Strategic Family Therapy

Strategic Family Therapy

            The family is an organization that must be perceived as a whole organism instead of a composite amalgamation of individuals that constitute it. It is a system, which incorporates interdependent parts. Additionally, each family member’s behavior has an effect on the family while the family has an influence on the behavior of its members. When family members are in conflict, they can seek the services of a family therapist, who can assist in coping with the conflict. However, strategic family therapy is critical in breaking the pattern of the problem and offering the best alternative for solving the problem. Thus, strategic family therapy endeavors to develop a specific approach for every family member with a specific problem, where the therapist becomes responsible for influencing certain behavioral change.

Strategic therapy was developed when individuals began asking why people behave in certain ways. For many families, a problem emerges when one of the family members strives to solve an initial problem but encounters difficulties. Strategic approach can assist in shifting from explaining why people behave in certain manner to advising people on how they could change their behavior. Most of the strategic therapy processes and goals necessitate the client family system to undertake a significant shift from the family issues. Strategic family therapy varies from other forms of psychotherapy because it employs hands-on approach to offering solutions to family problems.

The primary aim of therapy is to recommend a resolution of a pressing concern. Strategic family therapy presents mutually agreed-upon behavioral goals, which bring change in a family system. According to Capuzzi and Stauffer (2015), strategic family therapy is built on three principal models that include:

  • the Mental Research Institute (MRI)
  • the Washington School
  • the Milan model

The three models employ a systematic conceptual framework that constitutes the family therapy. In MRI, the identified solution, as well as its achievement, has to be governed by system rules. The therapist classifies the feedback loop and attempts to locate the rules that direct the loop. Eventually, the therapist can change the loop, as well as the rules to make a behavioral change. For Washington School therapy, the sequence of interaction is utilized to describe a problem, as well as direct the solution (Hecker & Wetchler, 2014). The Milan model is built on the notion that families are systems that function through feedback while creating generational boundaries. Thus, a therapist has to focus on the family history to break the power struggle and reframe the family members’ motives.

Strategic family therapy is usually based on Eriksonian principles where therapists are less concerned with the insight of their clients, but focus on particular goals (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2015). The powerful limiting patterns emerge from numerous influences that individuals absorb unconsciously from their earliest years, which have become their habitual expressions of what they are.  According to Erikson, something extraordinary must be done to transform the limiting patterns that prevent individuals from engaging with their current circumstances. The principle demands a creation of unconscious condition for change, and the rest will follow naturally.

In conclusion, strategic family therapy is fundamental in offering solutions to specific situations that bring conflict in families. Since family rules direct much of the family’s activities, they present limitations towards solving some problems. In such cases, a particular approach is mandatory to implement change. According to Milan School, the main intention of therapy is to intervene in the homeostasis of the family system by offering strategies that undercut the resistance behaviors (Rasheed, J., Rasheed, M., & Marley, 2011). Thus, strategic family therapy seeks to identify the cause of the family conflict and offer a strategic approach to the problem.


Capuzzi, D., & Stauffer, M. D. (2015). Foundations of couples, marriage, and family counseling. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Hecker, L. L., & Wetchler, J. L. (2014). An introduction to marriage and family therapy. New York: Haworth Clinical Practice Press.

Rasheed, J. M., Rasheed, M. N., & Marley, J. A. (2011). Family therapy: Models and techniques. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.