Structural family therapy (SFT), developed by Salvador Minuchin, explains and treats individual dysfunction as a function of family dynamics and prescribes a proactive role for the therapist as facilitator of transforming experiences in session. This entry describes the historical context of the development of SFT, its explanatory model of family functioning and dysfunction, and its treatment methodology.

Development of the Model

SFT was shaped by the needs of the institutional contexts where it developed. In the early 1960s, Minuchin was a psychiatrist at the Wiltwyck School for Boys, a residential facility in upstate New York for juvenile delinquents from the inner city. Noting that his clients’ families were isolated from their community and exhibited erratic and inconsistent interpersonal relationships, he set out to coach them into more ...

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