An Overview of Family Counselling and Its Different Approaches

Categories: Family


Family counseling or family therapy is devised to tackle particular issues that have an effect on the mental healthiness of the family, lice key life changeover or psychological health circumstances. It may be applied as the basic means of treatment or as a balancing strategy (이화자, 2016).

Family counseling can be very beneficial to families when they encounter any traumatic encounter that may damage the relationships of the family, like the demise of a loved one, divorce, or financial hardship.  Additionally, it can be effectual in taking care of psychological fitness distresses that affect the family at large, like food issues, chronic illness, drug abuse, depression, or each day concerns such as behavioral issues in adolescents and kids, interpersonal conflict, or communication issues (이화자, 2016).

Family therapy aims to advance collaboration and understanding among the members of the family so as to resolve the issues of more than one person. For instance, if a kid is having academic and social issues, counseling will spotlight on the models of the family that may throw in to the kid acting out, instead of assessing the conduct of the kid only.

Get quality help now
Doctor Jennifer
Verified writer

Proficient in: Family

5 (893)

“ Thank you so much for accepting my assignment the night before it was due. I look forward to working with you moving forward ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

  As the family unit unearths the root of the issue, they can gain knowledge on how to bear with the kid and other elements of the family unit and work positively on altering or minimizing the circumstances that put in the unwanted conduct of the kid (이화자, 2016).

Approaches of Family Counseling

The majority types of family remedies borrow greatly from the systems conjecture, even if there are those that are founded on psychosomatic strategies like psychodynamic, mental-behavioral, and experiential.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Check writers' offers

You won’t be charged yet!

The systems of family counseling argue that the in-house forces of the arrangement of the unit of the  family can generate and maintain problematic conducts in the members of the family. All family counseling strategies are devised to assist families progress coping skills, problem-resolving, and communication, and improve their sense of relation to each other (Moore & Neiderhiser, 2014). The intention of this essay is to compare and contrast the Structural and the post-Milan family counseling strategies, especially their conjectures on the causes of family issues. The essay will seriously scrutinize, synthesize and assess arguments and concepts in the academic literature and present a coherent, persuasive case that both the Milan family counseling approach and the structural family therapy confront dysfunctionality in the construction of the family. Nonetheless, in the Milan approach, it is done with an enhanced participation of the counselor. The way transformation and growth take place in the structural family therapy model is disparate than in the Milan systemic family therapy strategy as it takes places by opening substitute patterns of relationships that can make over the configuration of the family. It further asserts the Structural counseling approach of alteration does not rule out other strategies of transformation and structural counselors can operate alongside other remedial strategies to modification as a component of a coordinated pack up of therapy.

Milan Systemic Family Counseling Approach

The Milan or Post-Milan Systemic Conjecture was created by Mara Selvini Palazzoli out of frustration with the psychoanalytical family model (Nicholas, 2010). During Palazzoli’s misery with the psychoanalytic model, she started to formulate her strategy to the family. She led a group of eight psychiatrists in 1967 and turned to the ideas held by Watzlawick, Haley, and Bateson and established Milan’s Center for the Study of the Family. At the Center for the Study of the Family, they came up with the Milan systemic approach (Nicholas, 2010). The Milan Acquaintances did not utilize normative approaches or preconceived aims to the families of their clients (Nicholas 2010). As an alternative, the approach endeavors to expose the concealed power games by raising questions that make it possible for the family to investigate themselves (Nicholas, 2010). A Milan systemic counselor would not focus so much on endeavored solutions, rather would enquire about previous and current connections in the family. By so doing, the counselor would be striving to unearth a set-up of power authorities, habitually continuing across generations, which made up the game of the family (Nicholas, 2010).

In the Milan Approach, evaluation starts with a preliminary conjecture that is disconfirmed or confirmed in the preliminary session (Nicholas, 2010). The suppositions are usually founded on the assumption that the issue serves a defensive purpose for the family (Nicholas, 2010). Consequently, the queries created for the evaluation purpose are set up to investigate the family as a set of interlinked associations (Nicholas, 2010). The original Milan approach was exceedingly scripted. Families were counseled by female-male co-counselors and observed by other members of the counseling team. The customary format had five elements: preliminary session, the main session, the intercession, the intersession, and the post-session conversation (Nicholas, 2010).

The Structure of the Manila Family Therapy Model

The Preliminary Session: The counselors study and discuss the information of the client or the notes from the last session. A conjecture is created regarding how the issue came up, what is sustaining the issue, and probable convictions the family may have concerning the issue (Milan & Keiley, 2000).

The Key Session: Clients are seen for around an hour. Counselors interview in a method that will let them test their preliminary conjecture regarding the family. There is the incorporation of the circular questioning since it is believed to be a useful method of offering the members of the family with fresh information concerning their circumstance that may be contributing to the sustainability of their issue. Additionally, the therapists endeavor to be impartial during the sessions by shunning comments that would appear as if they are siding with one person over the other members of the family (Milan & Keiley, 2000).

The Intersession: The observers and the therapists converge in a private room to converse about the session and how to end it (Milan & Keiley, 2000).

The intercession: The counselors get back to the counseling room to make constructive connotations by highlighting how the issue has continued to be sustained by the family’s inactions, underlying convictions, and actions. From there the counselors give a paradoxical intercession.  The dialogue is kept brief, and the counselors may choose to send a written communication at the conclusion of their session in some circumstances. Rituals are directive to involve the entire family in some conduct that break or exaggerate rules and family allegories (Milan & Keiley, 2000).

The Post-session: The observers and the counselors converge to debate the observations, comments, the intercession, and how to pen down the notes (Milan & Keiley, 2000).

The Most Idiosyncratic Element of the Milan Family Counseling Conjecture

As per Nicholas (2010), the constructive implication is the most distinctive novelty to come out of the Milan Family Counseling model.  Even if in the earlier days of the conjecture the counselors were not neutral and appeared to take sides, today neutralism is encouraged using distance. The inspiration behind the counselor keeping distance is to avoid the appearance of being biased (Nicholas, 2010).

The Structural Family Counseling Conjecture is an approach of treatment founded on the systems theory that was established basically at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, under the stewardship of Salvador Minuchin in the 1960s. The approach was developed as an element of the advancing interest in general ways of conceptualizing human sorrow and association quandaries, and in operating curatively with those innate systems and associations perceived to bring about anguish.  The Structural family counseling model is underpinned by an obviously expressed form of family operation (Nicholas, 2010).

The approach’s distinctive characteristics are its stress on structural transformation as the key aim of psychoanalysis, which needs supremacy over the particulars of the personal transformation, and the attention given to the counselor as a dynamic instrument in the course of streamlining the family (Colapinto, 2011). The structural model was first outlined by the book Families of the Slums (1967). The approach became the most broadly practiced family systems therapy by the 1970 (Colapinto, 2011: Nicholas, 2010).  The structural family therapy conjecture assumes that everybody, being a family member, has an organizational formation and within that configuration is how the family connects with every member, via these interactions, the rules are created regarding the family and every person takes  up a role within this. Via this system, subsystems are created (Nicholas, 2010).  Warning signs come up when one member of the family encounters external pressures or when issues are sustained by the dysfunctional organization of the family (Nicholas, 2010).  Therefore, the aims of Structural therapy are bringing order and meaning to family relationships and also offers identification of the general organization that supports and sustains the interactions of the family (Colapinto, 2011). When the configuration of the relative group transforms, the spots of the associates in the grouping also alters; therefore, every individual’s encounter transformations and therein lies the prospective to assuage indicative agony.  The structural family counseling approach operates with the courses of response between situations and the persons engrossed, tracking how alterations made to the situations of people reaction into selections and decisions regarding further transformations (Colapinto, 2011).

The explanation above is a competency approach, encouraging individuals to search the limits of their acknowledged repertoires of reacting; assuming that associates of a family unit have the capability to invent and learn from less tapped intrapersonal and interpersonal resources. Ratification as a Structural counseling technique is viewed as essential to this approach of transforming i.e. cheering members of the family to issue solve and create different responses to one another in the comparative wellbeing of the remedial association. As such, intervention is advanced at three stages: challenging family conviction systems, challenging the structure of the family, and challenging indicative conduct. The treatment is founded on the principle of action before comprehension, and opposite of it, with the application of cognitive methods like reframing. The members of the family are heartened to consider beyond suggestive conducts and contemporary complaints and view their conduct and selections in the framework of family arrangement and practice and the interactions between the relatives grouping and other communal systems (Bobrow & Ray, 2004).

The Case of the Kennedys

The Kennedy family comprises of the father Kennedy, 35 years old; the mother Carol, 33; Tessie, 7; and Evans, 4. The mother contacted a structural therapist and stated that Evans is very aggressive, screams for no apparent reason and throws toys at his sister. A day earlier he pushed Tessie and caused her to injure her nose. Carols sister Win, 28 years old, who is a school teacher and stays in the same compound, is convinced that Evans is hyperactive, and she organized for a neurological analysis. The test found nothing wrong with Kevin. The Kennedys run a bookstore.

When the family together with Win gets into the therapist’s room for the first interview, Evans and Tessie (who has a patch on her nose) run directly to the toys; the counselor follows them and begins her joining by inquiring about Tessie’s condition. She finds out that the lesion is not grave and also that Win intervenes frequently in her dialogue with the children; correcting or adding to the information offered by Evans and Tessie. It turns out that Evans pushed Tessie while playing, and then Tessie hit a counter corner. As the counselor leaves them, the kids quickly organize themselves to play. Evans does not, and will not show any of the conventional signs of hyperactivity. The psychotherapist proceeds to investigate the family structure and to reframe the issue.

After spending more than 18 sessions with the Kennedy’s they all come to agree that what really creating the friction is individual differences and circumstances. Win does not like Evans because he teases her that she is lonely, which is true, while Tessie comforts her. The mother sides with Win because she is her sister while the father sides with ‘his son’. All the family needed to do is to search the boundaries of their acknowledged repertoires of reacting. Indeed when the Kennedys utilized their capability to invent and learn from less tapped intrapersonal and interpersonal resources as advised by the therapist, the family issue was not there anymore.

Structural Family Counseling Strategy versus the Milan Family Counseling Approach

Both the Structural family therapy and the Milan family counseling approach challenge dysfunctionality in the structure of the family. Nevertheless, in the Milan model, it is done with more participation from the counselor. The way change and growth take place in the structural family therapy model are dissimilar than in the Milan systemic family therapy strategy as it takes places by opening  substitute patterns of relations that can transform the family configuration. It is not an issue of establishing new arrangements but of stimulating dormant ones (Nicholas, 2010). Clients are evaluated by amalgamation with the family to construct an union and then setting the system of the family in motion via the utilizations of endorsements, in-session conversations that allow the counselor to study how the members of the family relate (Nicholas, 2010). The Structural counseling approach of transformation does not keep out other approaches of alteration, and structural counselors can operate together with other restorative models to transform as a component of a coordinated unit of care.

Family-systems-founded intercessions are getting wide utilization in community-founded services for a wide diversity of clients and a broad range of problems. In spite of some dissimilarities in approaches and techniques, systemic strategies focus on direct evaluation and change to enhance personal and relational well-being and resilience.  Medical practitioners with a family systems course increasingly integrate elements of numerous approaches, and most view family members, couples, and individuals in varied combinations depending on specific circumstances.  The Internet and cell phones provide new possibilities for family involvement and contact. Counselors increasingly utilize their systemic perspective to collaborate with justice, healthcare, schools and other huger systems. Growing numbers of family counselors work with minority and low-income families and at-threat youth. Multicultural strategies address the intersections of culture, gender, class, and race in the clinical practice. Counselors tackle the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) clients (Herdt & Koff, 2000), refugee and immigrant families (Falicov, 2007), and others suffering prejudice and marginalization in the broader society.  Family counselor work to advance institutional changes and social policy required for families and their members to thrive (Milan & Keiley, 2000).

The common question, “When is family therapy indicated?” needs reconceptualization.  Family counseling is the practice of a systemic orientation, guided by the assumption than a person’s problems can be best understood and altered in their relational and social context. Positive transformations in stressful transactions will facilitate individual transformation and growth.  A systemic view can improve all forms of intervention, from cognitive-behavioral to biomedical model strategies. Family consultations can facilitate collaboration, engagement, and the constructing of family resources by direct contact with crucial members in the kin network. For example, foster care is facilitated when crucial members of the family are engaged, like a family council, to discuss placement options and collaborate in decision making and ways of supporting the experience o the kids (Minuchin et al., 2006).

In systemic intercession strategies, counselors aim to advance change directly with noteworthy members of the family, during or outside sessions. Therapy may selectively aim at particular issues and include those members most critical for issue solving. More intensive family counseling may be required in cases of complex, multiple, or entrenched hardships (Beels, 2002). With the recognition that complicated biopsychosocial problems are usually not resolved by a single strategy, combined modalities are repeatedly indicated. For serious psychological illness, studies illustrate the combined effectiveness of psychotropic interventions with group, family, and individual strategies, as earlier noted. Therapy approaches for sexual abuse, violence, and substance abuse also needs a multimodality strategy. Careful timing, planning, and focus are also crucial (Chung, 2011; Paz Pruitt, 2007).

Finally, knowledge bases and practice strategies are informed and enhanced via the contributions of research on therapeutic processes and family processes. Both Structural and Manila family therapy approaches are of value. Provided the wide diversity of families and their challenges, no single model fits all. Most imperative, at the center of the therapeutic endeavor, is the therapists’ common humanity and compassionate association with the families that they serve, supporting their best potential and positive endeavors (Fraser, 2003; Parker & Molteni, 2017).


Family psychotherapy or family counsel is formulated to handle particular issues that have an effect on the mental wellbeing of the family, like key life changeovers or psychological fitness circumstances. It could be utilized as the fundamental mode of management or as a corresponding strategy. Both the Milan family psychoanalysis approach and the structural family therapy confront dysfunctionality in the construction of the family. Nonetheless, in the Milan approach, it is done with an enhanced participation of the counselor. The way transformation and growth take place in the structural family therapy model is disparate than in the Milan systemic family therapy strategy as it takes places by opening  substitute patterns of relationships that can make over the configuration of the family. It is not an issue of establishing new make ups but of activating inactive ones. Affected persons are evaluated by combining with the relatives to construct a grouping and then setting the system of the family in motion via the utilizations of ratifications, in-session conversations that let the counselor observe how the members of the family associate. The Structural counseling strategy of alteration does not bar other strategies of transformation, and structural counselors can work in conjunction with other remedial strategies to transformation as an element of a coordinated pack up of therapy. Finally, both Manila and Structural family psychotherapy approaches are of significance. Provided the broad multiplicity of families and their challenges, no single setup fits all. Most essential, at the heart of the remedial venture, is the therapists’ common humanity and empathetic association with the families that they serve, supporting their best potential and helpful accomplishments.


  1. Beels, C. (2002). Notes for a Cultural History of Family Therapy*. Family Process, 41(1), 67- 82.
  2. Bobrow, E., & Ray, W. (2004). Strategic Family Therapy in the Trenches. Journal Of Systemic Therapies, 23(4), 28-38.
  3. Colapinto, J. (2011). Structural Family Therapy. Journal Of Family Therapy, 34(4), 431-451.
  4. Chung, H. (2011). Conversation Analysis for Family Therapy Research. Family And Family Therapy, 19(1), 1-22.
  5. Falicov, C. (2007). Working With Transnational Immigrants: Expanding Meanings of Family, Community, and Culture. Family Process, 46(2), 157-171.
  6. Fraser, B. (2003). The Common Factors that Connect all Approaches to Family Therapy. Australian And New Zealand Journal Of Family Therapy, 24(4), 225-227.
  7. Herdt, G., & Koff, B. (2000). Something to tell you. New York: Columbia University Press.
  8. Milan, S., & Keiley, M. (2000). Biracial Youth and Families in Therapy: Issues and Interventions. Journal Of Marital And Family Therapy, 26(3), 305-315.
  9. Minuchin, P., Colapinto, J., & Minuchin, S. (2006). Working with Families of the Poor, Second Edition. New York: Guilford Publications.
  10. Moore, G., & Neiderhiser, J. (2014). Behavioral Genetic Approaches and Family Theory. Journal Of Family Theory & Review, 6(1), 18-30.
  11. Nicholas, M. (2013). Family therapy. Boston: Pearson.
  12. Parker, M., & Molteni, J. (2017). Structural Family Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Bridging the Disciplinary Divide. The American Journal Of Family Therapy, 1-14.
  13. Paz Pruitt, I. (2007). Family Treatment Approaches for Depression in Adolescent Males. The American Journal Of Family Therapy, 35(1), 69-81.
  14. Reimers, S. (2000). Therapist reflections: Triple-mindedness. Journal Of Family Therapy, 22(1), 24-28.
  15. 이화자. (2016). Panic Disorder: with Treatment Based on Structural Family Therapy and the  Vulnerability Stress Model. Family And Family Therapy, 24(4), 573-598.

Cite this page

An Overview of Family Counselling and Its Different Approaches. (2021, Sep 10). Retrieved from

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment