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Brief Strategic Family Therapy

Brief Strategic Family Therapy is a very novel, yet evidence-based, approach to the management of a variety of issues including adolescent behavioral problems, maladaptive family dynamics, and substance abuse or chemical dependence. The model focuses on finding solutions or answers to problems and not the problems themselves. This is a very unique characteristic of the Brief Strategic Family Therapy model in that, unlike mainstream psychotherapies, it does not attempt to change the problems – maladaptive thoughts, negative thoughts, or ill thoughts. Instead, it provides individuals and their respective families hope that solutions and resources are readily available.

familyThe basic premise of BSFT is that the family remains the most influential social system in the development of each member of the family, especially the children. The idea is to look at behavioral, emotional, and even cognitive issues presented by individuals within the larger context of the family including their relationships, family alliances, familial boundaries, parental attitudes, and other family dynamics. It presupposes that individuals who may engage in risky behaviors, delinquency, substance abuse, school truancy, and social conduct problems among other things, have been directly or indirectly influenced by events that occur in the family. The goal therefore of Brief Strategic Family Therapy is in the identification of specific problems in order to improve and strengthen family relationships and family dynamics.

3 Principles of Brief Strategic Family Therapy

Therapists utilizing the BSFT Model observe its three fundamental principles.

  • The family is a closed, yet fully functional system. This is a very important principle as the family is a system that is composed many interconnected or interdependent parts. What this simply means is that any problem besetting one family member will also have an effect on the lives of the other members. It is also within this context that behavioral problems can be brought about by the interactions of the different parts or components of the family. A therapist employing the BSFT Model should therefore recognize the impact of such interconnectedness and that individual behaviors should always be understood within the context in which they occur. Interventions must therefore take these into consideration in order for them to be effective.
  • Individual behavior is dependent on existing family structure. The interactions between and among family members are crucial in the development of individual thoughts and behaviors. Some families that do not allow for open communication may create problems for family members who want to express their thoughts or even feelings. Families that are very open may also have a negative effect on self-control and self-restraint. The family structure defines how each family member needs to interact with others and the rest of the family. The therapist caring for an individual undergoing BSFT should carefully consider the effects of these patterns of family interactions on the client’s individual problems.
  • Solutions must be problem-focused and very practical. The SFBT Model does not attempt to change the problem itself. It nevertheless needs to understand the problem so that more practical alternative solutions can be found. The model uses a variety of methods or interventions to meet the practical needs of both the individual and the family.

Components of BSFT Interventions

At Sprout Health Group, all treatment interventions utilizing the principles of Brief Strategic Family Therapy are highly individualized. Nevertheless, all BSFT interventions will be composed of three core components.

  • Joining – It is imperative for the BSF therapist to enter the family system and engage them both at the level of the individual and the level of the family. The goal is to form a therapeutic partnership with each member of the family in order to facilitate the discovery of solutions to the identified problems.
  • Diagnosis – During working phase of the BSFT intervention, the therapist attempts to develop a diagnosis which will become the basis for the development of a comprehensive and highly individualized plan of care. To aid the therapist in the formulation of the most appropriate diagnosis, she needs to look at the patterns of family interactions including the quality of these interactions. Additionally, the therapist will also have to consider other social systems which the family have come in contact with either currently or in the past.
  • Restructuring – Once diagnosis has been established, more specific interventions can be developed to transform identified maladaptive family interactions. Techniques such as reframing, working in the present, and working with boundaries and family alliances may be used by the therapist to facilitate change in the family.

The goal of Brief Strategic Family Therapy is in the identification of specific problems in order to improve and strengthen family relationships and family dynamics.

Brief Strategic Family Therapy at Sprout

Sprout Health Group employs a variety of interventions that largely utilizes the foundations of the BSFT Model. As individuals will eventually return home, it is important that their respective families are involved in every aspect of their care. This can be best enhanced when family interactions are strengthened and family dynamics are reinforced.


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