Strategic family therapy targets problematic behaviors within a family, using the interactions between its members as a means of creating change. Strategic practitioners accept responsibility for that change, customizing their interventions to meet the needs of clients. They emphasize the importance of therapeutic action, relying on a variety of directive techniques to expand a family’s behavioral options. This entry first discusses the development of the strategic approach in family therapy and how, in strategic family therapy, practitioners view communication, the need to define or redefine the family hierarchy, and the role of symptoms. It then discusses the role of the therapist and strategic techniques in this approach to therapy.

The Strategic Approach

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, mental health practitioners perceived psychotherapy as an ...

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