Family therapy believes that problems that the individuals evidence stem from the fact that problems occur within the family unit itself and that the family is divided into several component parts. To address these problems the therapist, as it were, therefore steps into the family unit, becomes "a part of it" and intervenes. His doing so not only enables him to see the family patterns from the inside; thereby understanding faults of fission but also enable him to practice therapy. Intervention in the family is called enactment.
Enactment refers to the therapist encouraging acting of dysfunctional relationship patterns within the family therapy session and him acting out some of this behavior by actually entering the family unit. The therapist thereby learns about the family's structure and interactional patterns and is able to interfere in the process by modifying some of the negative elements, pointing these out, intensifying positive elements, and modifying others. The therapist may also have the family enact more positive transactional patterns which will serve as a guideline for continued positive family interactions outside therapy.
Triangle positions come out more clearly under stress when external others may intercede in the problem crating many more 'corners' to the stress. In Parent Trap this is seen where the housekeeper steps in and criticizes Nick ("I'm not saying anything but…"). It can also be seen where the grandfather intervenes to help the twins out. The stress has spread to another corner. In Parent Trap 2, the same can be seen where Susan is dragged into the picture and complicates the affair. The greater the degree of fusion in a relationship, the more intense the pull to preserve emotional stability by forming a triangle. We see this particularly with Susan's interference, where the relationship had a great deal of stability and the aunt wanted to preserve this. Sometimes, when the third party is drawn in triangulating becomes problematic and the scheme can become complex. When the grandfather was drawn in such was not the case, but it certainly became so with the aunt.
Bowen's thesis too is that the triangle can become an inter-generational inheritance. Hypothetical though the Parent Trap may be, we certainly see the theme of conflict handed down to the twins as they mature into adulthood. Susan herself remarks that she seems to be handed the role of peacemaker by using her identity of twin hood to over and again simulate the other.
3 - Nuclear Family Emotional System
Undifferentiating can result in three different categories:
a. couple conflict; - this is an emotionally intense relationship where each is unable to separate from the other and views the others as criticizing the one and perceives the emotional state of the other as his particular responsibility (Kerr and Bowen, 1988: 192).
b. illness in a spouse;
Responsibility may lead to one spouse controlling the other and the other feeling a sense of powerlessness, dependence eon the other. The dependent one may feel symptoms such as depression, substance abuse and chronic pain, whilst the other may become overburdened by attempts to make things 'right'
c. Projection of a problem onto one or more children.
This is when a child develops behavioral or emotional problems and is discussed in Bowen's fourth category:
4 - Family Projection Process
Children develop systems of stress when they get caught up within the inter-generational dyad of quarreling. This is seen all too clearly in Parent Trap when Annie and Hallie feel incomplete parts with each feeling they have a parent missing from their lives (evocatively portrayed by the picture torn in the middle). They then get caught up in the anxiety of figuratively putting these two picture together and making their life one whole.
A detouring triangle is created when attention from parent stress (other family stressor) is deflected to suffering child. This is what the twins attempted to do in Parent Trap when they asked their father to choose between the twins or between Meredith Blake. In both the 1961 version and the newer version of 1998, this happened too when Elizabeth and Nik had to decide how to reconcile their differences in order to make both children content. In both events, tension in marriage was decreased.
5 - Emotional Cutoff
This may be emotional or physical where stressor is so great that family member removes himself form triangle. Says Bowen:
If one does not see himself as part of the system, his only options are either to get others to change or to withdraw. If one sees himself as part of the system, he has a new option: to stay in contact with others and change self (Kerr and Bowen, 1988: 272-273).
A central Bowenian theory is that the more individuals retain emotional contact with previous generations, the less stressful reaction they are bound to feel
6 - Multi-generational Transmission Process
Patterns, themes and positions (roles) in a triangle are passed down from generation to generation are passed down through generations from parent to child. Understanding this can help the characters. As Monica McGoldrick (1995: 20) writes in applying Bowenian concepts:
By learning about your family and its history and getting to know what made family members tick, how they related, and where they got stuck, you can consider your own role, not simply as victim or reactor to your experiences but as an active player in interactions that repeat themselves.
This could certainly help the characters in Parent Trap 2, particularly Susan who seems fated to over and again play the part of her twin, pretend to be the other, in order to save the family.
7 - Sibling Positions
Sibling positions, Bowen theorized, play a part in determining the kind of role that siblings will take in healing the family. In BOTH Parent Trap 1 and 2, the children were the oldest in both cases. Both showed a responsibility to diffusing the stressors. Clients in Bowen's therapy were encouraged to see connection between their sibling role and their attitude towards stressor and, thereby, to differentiate themselves.
Develop and justify three culturally sensitive therapeutic interventions (family intervention, dyad, and individual)
The main goal of Bowenian therapy is to diffuse anxiety by:
1. facilitating awareness of how the emotional system functions; and
2. Increasing levels of differentiation of family members, where the focus is on making changes for the self rather than on trying to change others.
In other words, when connected to the twins in Parent Trap and providing individual therapy, the therapist would:
1. help each twin and family member see what it is that gives them the emotional stress that each feels and,
2. Increase the levels of differentiation of family members by separating each twin from the other, separating mother from father - making each feel an individual in her own right. This same thing would be achieved in Parent Trap 2 where the two classmates would be separated from one another -- showed how they can live separately and how Nikki can adapt in New York, also how each parent can effectively live single lives. Focusing on the individuality would break the buildup of stress within the family.
Three culturally sensitive therapeutic interventions would be family intervention, dyad, and individual where, as family intervention, the therapist will enter this situation by uncovering and teasing apart each of these family dynamics. She will then reenact these trends within the session helping Anie / Sharon and Hallie / Susan to embellish on some that are positive, reduce others, and modify still others. The therapist too may include other family members so that all are involved in changing the destructive family dynamics. By helping the family to understand that the roots of their problems originate in these substructures and by helping them change and appreciate them, the therapist uses structural therapy to alter behavior. So for instance, - and this may be individual intervention - in Parent Trap 2, Nikki may be brought to see how her behavior parallels that of previous behavior, and seems to be a pattern. Nikki too may be brought to see that her behavior is like that of her aunt where either refuses to accept the situation and strains to get their way regardless of change.
Elizabeth and Nik too in Parent Trap 1 need enormous help with their communication that seems to inevitably result in conflict. This would be dyadic intervention where therapist's focus is on couple. The sudden dream-ending of the movie does not resolve this and we get the feeling that the conflict will continue. If so, it is bound to affect the twins. Helping them realize this and change this mode of communication may help not only parents but, in extension, their children and anyone else involved in the triangle (Bowen Theory. Multigenerational Transmission Process http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/conceptmtp.html).
As per treatment, Bowen recommends that client goes back to family of origin in order to establish a connection. The therapist is also interested in the family's history of dealing with emotional…