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ethical issues in family therapy


Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631170488.1995.x


Extract

The essence of all family or systemic therapies is an understanding of people in terms of their relationships with others: an individual is always considered as a member of a social group, usually, but not necessarily, the family. The family, in turn, is considered as a system in interaction with other systems, such as the neighbourhood, school, work and health and welfare agencies. In practice, however, the focus of the therapist's interventions has typically been on the family group, although, it must be said, family therapists seem to be well aware of variations in the definition and understanding of what constitutes ‘the family’. A number of ethical issues are raised when seeing people through this lens. Some critics (e.g. Reiger, 1981; Kingston, 1987) have argued that family therapy has over-focused on the family and that historical and sociological influences have too easily been ignored. Thus families can inappropriately or disproportionately ‘take the blame’ for behaviours which are caused or strongly influenced by wider social and structural factors: inner-city delinquency is one example. The French writer, Jacques Donzelot in his book The policing of families (1980) characterizes professionals who intervene in families in order to educate them or to repair faults as, ‘technicians in human relations.’ He argues that interventions into families construct the entities they ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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