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Definition of Strategic Family Therapy

By Ayra Moore ; Updated June 13, 2017
Mother playing cards with her teen daughter smiling.

If you are dealing with issues that involve the whole family, strategic family therapy may be helpful. Therapeutic interventions such as this focus on how members interact with each other and can be used for a range of different issues. A therapist who uses strategic family therapy can help your family learn to communicate and to work through problems.

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Strategic family therapy is a shortened mode of intervention that focuses on specific problems in the family. Family members are encouraged to act as they normally do in everyday interactions. This enables the therapist to determine what is not working and to guide the session toward addressing these issues, says Jose Szapocznik, a clinical psychologist and family therapist.

Focus of Treatment

This intervention strategy is commonly used with families who engage in unhealthy interactions and who are dealing with adolescent risk behavior. The therapist provides treatment with the view that adopting positive strategies for family functioning will decrease negative behavioral patterns. Other factors that are examined include parenting practices, communication patterns and increasing support between family members.

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About the Author

Ayra Moore is a professional writer who holds a Masters of Science in forensic psychology with a specialty in mental health applications. She also obtained a Bachelor of Arts in general psychology and criminal justice from Georgia State University. Moore worked for two years with at-risk teenagers in a therapeutic setting.

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