PLEASE FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTION BELOW ZERO PLAGIARISM 4 REFERENCES Although structural therapy and strategic therapy are both used in family therapy, these therapeutic approaches have many differences in theory and application. As you assess families and develop treatment plans, you must consider these differences and their potential impact on clients. For this Assignment, as you compare structural and strategic family therapy, consider which therapeutic approach you might use with your own client families. In a 2- to 3-page paper, address the following:


Structural therapy and strategic therapy are two distinct approaches in family therapy, each with its own theoretical foundations and unique applications. The differences between these two therapeutic approaches can significantly impact the treatment process and outcomes for clients and their families. As a therapist, it is important to understand these differences in order to make informed decisions about which approach to utilize when working with client families. This paper aims to compare and contrast structural and strategic family therapy and discuss which therapeutic approach might be most appropriate for working with client families.

Comparison of Structural and Strategic Family Therapy

Structural family therapy, developed by Salvador Minuchin, focuses on altering the family’s organization and structure to address presenting problems. It views families as complex systems made up of interconnected parts, where dysfunction in one part affects the entire system. The therapist takes an active role in reorganizing the family structure by working to establish hierarchical boundaries, alliances, and power dynamics. The goal is to create a more functional and flexible family system that can effectively adapt to changes and resolve conflicts.

In contrast, strategic family therapy, pioneered by Jay Haley and others, emphasizes the importance of communication patterns and strategic interventions to bring about change in the family. It views communication as a primary contributor to the maintenance of problematic behavior patterns and seeks to disrupt these patterns through deliberate therapeutic interventions. The therapist takes a more directive stance, providing specific instructions and assignments to family members designed to create shifts in their interactions and problem-solving abilities. The aim is to restructure the family’s communication patterns and bring about desired changes in behavior.

Theoretical Foundations

Structural therapy draws heavily from general systems theory, which posits that individuals and families are interconnected and influenced by their social and cultural contexts. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the family’s rules, boundaries, and hierarchies to address dysfunctional patterns. Strategic therapy, on the other hand, is influenced by cybernetics and communication theory, which highlight the role of communication in maintaining and perpetuating problematic behaviors. It focuses on creating shifts in communication patterns and strategic interventions to disrupt and replace those patterns.

Key Techniques and Interventions

Structural family therapy employs techniques such as joining, boundary making, and enacting to intervene and reorganize the family structure. Joining involves the therapist entering into the family system and establishing a therapeutic alliance with each family member. Boundary making aims to clarify and establish appropriate boundaries within the family system to enhance healthy functioning. Enacting involves guiding family members in role-playing scenarios to observe and address problematic interactions, facilitating new ways of relating.

In contrast, strategic family therapy utilizes techniques such as reframing, prescribing the symptom, and paradoxical interventions to create change. Reframing involves offering alternative interpretations of problems to family members, thereby shifting their perspectives and opening up new possibilities for problem-solving. Prescribing the symptom involves strategically assigning family members to engage in behaviors that are part of the problem pattern, aiming to expose the maladaptive nature of those behaviors. Paradoxical interventions involve offering seemingly counterintuitive suggestions or directives to disrupt ingrained patterns and provoke change.

Applications and Effectiveness

Structural family therapy is particularly effective in addressing issues related to family structure, power dynamics, and boundary conflicts. It is often used with families experiencing difficulties resulting from life transitions, such as divorce, remarriage, or the addition of new family members. It is also useful in treating issues related to rigid or enmeshed family systems, where individuals struggle to develop a sense of autonomy and separate identity.

Strategic family therapy, on the other hand, is well-suited for working with families characterized by power struggles, resistance to change, and communication problems. It is particularly effective in treating issues such as adolescent behavior problems, domestic violence, and substance abuse. The strategic approach’s emphasis on direct interventions and communication patterns makes it a powerful tool for creating shifts in behavior and resolving conflicts.


In conclusion, structural and strategic family therapy are two distinct therapeutic approaches with different theoretical foundations, techniques, and applications. Structural therapy focuses on altering the family structure, while strategic therapy emphasizes deliberate strategic interventions to disrupt problematic patterns. The choice of therapeutic approach should be guided by the specific needs and dynamics of the client family. Structural therapy is suitable for addressing family structure and boundary conflicts, while strategic therapy is effective in dealing with communication problems and resistant behaviors. As a therapist, it is essential to understand the differences between these approaches and select the most appropriate one to best serve the needs of client families.