International Journal of Family Therapy

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 133–151 | Cite as

Value systems and psychopathology in family therapy

  • Gerald H. Zuk


Two sets of values—the “continuity” and the “discontinuity”—are readily apparent in family conflict. Pathogenic relating erupts after an impasse between the sets of values. Husband-wife conflict, parent-child conflict, and conflict between the family and neighborhood or community are described in terms of conflict in value systems. Family therapy is a method for influencing the value systems.

Each of the three role functions of the family therapist—the go-between, the side-taker, and the celebrant—expresses both “continuity” and “discontinuity” values which are described. Depending on his assessment of pathogenic relating and other features of family dysfunction, the therapist selectively expresses values that serve to disrupt and then repair destructive family interaction.

The process of engaging families in therapy is crucial because many families, especially those that are poor and uneducated, do not like to sit and talk about problems. Short-term therapy works best with the majority of poor, uneducated families; it even works best with middle-class families. Short-term therapy works mainly because it least violates value expectations the majority of families have about therapy.


Health Psychology Social Issue Family Therapy Family Conflict Family Interaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald H. Zuk
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Family PsychiatryEastern Penna. Psychiatric InstitutePhiladelphia

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