Counseling and Psychotherapy Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Hypothetical Session: Family Systems Therapy

In the last session with the adolescent Abigail, her mother Grace, and her father Don, all three members of the family were encouraged to talk to me as the therapist, not to one another. This was designed to allow them to speak honestly and to reduce direct confrontation. Abigail and her parents had come to participate in family therapy because Abigail had, according to her parents, been 'acting out' in various ways such as cutting school and acting defiant. I engaged largely with the two parents to discern what conflicts were occurring between the two of them. In keeping with Bowen's techniques I interviewed family members separately, allowing them to listen to the speeches of the other members individually. Grace said that she felt that her daughter was disrespectful to her and was worried about Abigail's future if Abigail did not get better grades. When asked why she was worried about Abigail's future, the mother said she "didn't want Abigail to turn out like me, with no skills and no ability to get a good job." Abigail's mother does not work outside the house and voiced her anxiety about her financial dependence in the marriage on her husband. Don blamed Abigail for disrupting the household. He stated he was frustrated at work and disliked coming home to fighting. He also said that his relationship with his wife had suffered because she was constantly fighting with her daughter.

In this second session, keeping with Bowen's stress upon minimizing the intervention of children in the therapeutic process, I asked to speak to the parents alone. Bowen said that very often children are used in the 'triangulation' process between parents, buffering adult members of a family and preventing the adults from getting to the heart of the real conflict. During the session I asked Grace "why do you take your child's behavior so personally," a common therapeutic question designed to reflect the adult's responsibility in how he or…

Sources Used in Document:


Bowen family systems theory and practice: Illustration and critique. (2014). Family Systems

Institute. Retrieved from

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