Helping Families Change

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Promoting change is, of course, the essence of family therapy. To achieve this the therapist must have a coherent theory of change. This can be based on any of the theoretical schemes outlined above, or on others that exist. The therapist's theory of change is then the basis for the interventions he or she employs. The actual techniques used vary widely, but certain stages are required:

a. The establishment of rapport. As rapport develops, the participants become intensively involved with each other; trust also develops. The process has been given other names; some therapists refer to it as "joining" the family or "building working alliances." The process may occur quickly or it may take an entire session, even several. It involves both verbal and nonverbal techniques. Time spent establishing rapport is, however, seldom wasted. Lack of sufficient rapport is a major cause of failure in family therapy—and indeed in most endeavors that involve relationships with others.

b. Intervening in the family system. Having joined with the family, there are many ways the therapist may intervene in its transactional patterns. They may be divided into direct and indirect interventions.

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