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What are Some Strategic Family Therapy Techniques?

by Shannon Philpott

Family therapy offers the opportunity to work through conflicts, brainstorm solutions and learn more about differences. Strategic family therapy is a fast-paced therapy model that addresses specific problems the family may be facing in a shorter time frame or brief number of sessions. Techniques during therapy sessions can teach each family member how to process emotions and work together.

Plan and Collaborate

A busy household demands organization, but when each person has a different goal in mind, conflicts arise. Come to a solution quickly by hosting a planning session during family therapy to coordinate schedules. For example, children can make a list of trips or fun activities while parents outline household responsibilities. The family can create a calendar that includes accomplishing chores and responsibilities while etching in activities, such as catching a movie, working on an art project together or making a meal as a group. Compiling the calendar fosters a level of respect and provides an immediate solution to conflicts, according to Marie Hartwell-Walker, a psychologist, in the article “3 Steps to a Closer, Stronger Family,” on the PsychCentral.com website.

Problem Solve Together

Problems inevitably occur in any family but you can prevent them from escalating. Families need the tools and resources to solve problems peacefully. Clear the air with a problem-solving session, according to Alan S. Gurman and David P. Kniskern, editors of the “Handbook of Family Therapy, Volume II.” First, the family must define the specific problem and come to a consensus. Possible solutions must be explored together. This phase may result in disagreements but by presenting multiple options, families have the opportunity to compromise.

Play as a Group

Use art and play-based activities during a counseling session to work through issues of resentment, isolation and loneliness, suggest family therapists Liana Lowenstein and Trudy Post Sprunk in their article “Creative Family Therapy Techniques: Play and Art-Based Activities to Assess and Treat Families,” found on Lowenstein's website. Build blocks collaboratively, construct a clay fixture or draw a family portrait with each person adding to the project. Working as a team teaches patience and highlights the strengths of each family member while involving each person in the task.

Question and Answer

Launch a question and answer game to identify feelings about a specific challenge faced recently, suggests Kim Peterson, psychotherapist, in the article, "A Simple Game For Building a Stronger Family," on her website. Create a list of random questions, such as “How do you prefer to handle conflict?” and “If you could be a superhero, who would it be and why?” Include questions that focus on both emotions and creativity so family members can connect on both a fun and serious level. Once the general questions have been answered, concentrate on a specific problem the family faces. Narrow the questions to focus on the issue.

About the Author

Shannon Philpott has been a writer since 1999. She has experience as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and online copywriter. Philpott has published articles in St. Louis metro newspapers, "Woman's World" magazine, "CollegeBound Teen" magazine and on e-commerce websites, and also teaches college journalism and English. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Southern Illinois University.

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