The development of structural family therapy by Salvador Minuchin and colleagues (Minuchin, Montvalo, Guerney, Rosman, & Schumer, 1967, 1974) gave the field a way to map the organization of families and concisely describe their dynamics. This approach enabled practitioners to think about families as a unit and make sense of complex interactions. In structural family therapy, families are understood as open systems that respond and adjust to the outside world. Presenting problems reflect and maintain family structures. Structural family therapy focuses on interactional patterns and the relative power of family members to influence these patterns. Structural family therapists recognize the inherent strength of families to positively adapt to changing circumstances. Therapeutic goals include restructuring interactions in ways that support the development of the family system and well-being of all members.
Socioculturally attuned structural family therapy invites families to consider third order change in how they organize their lives in relationship to broader societal contexts.