Reconceptualizing Strategic Family Therapy: Insights from a Dynamic Systems Perspective

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Abstract

As one of the more mature marriage and family therapy (MFT) models, strategic family therapy has a distinguished and colorful history. Part of that history includes an era when strategic therapy was considered by some to be manipulative and even unethical. Recent advances in our understanding of the behavior of complex natural systems via dynamic systems theory may shed new light on the process of strategic family therapy and help us understand more fully the underlying purposes of the preferred therapeutic stance and clinical interventions of this model. We briefly review the theoretical and empirical literature associated with strategic therapy, followed by a detailed description of dynamic systems theory concepts. We conclude by linking the theory and practice of strategic therapy to the science of dynamic systems as a means of understanding why strategic therapy is an effective form of brief therapy.

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