Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

Living Edition
| Editors: Jay Lebow, Anthony Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Mapping in Structural Family Therapy

Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-15877-8_972-2


Mapping is the visual representation of a family and of its members’ relationships with each other and with the outside world.

Theoretical Framework

Mapping is a primary assessment technique used in Structural Family Therapy.

Rationale for the Strategy or Intervention

Structural therapy poses that problematic behaviors are embedded in a family’s relational patterns. Visually representing those patterns on a diagram serves the dual purpose of identifying how problems are maintained by the family’s dynamics and guiding the therapeutic intervention.


The first draft of the family map may be drawn on the basis of the referral information. Who live in the household? What are their genders and ages? How are they related to each other? This gives the therapist a basic sense of the “shape” of the family: “trigenerational,” “blended,” “single parent,” “one-child.” The referral information may also include data on the larger system: individuals and organizations that are...

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  1. Minuchin, P., Colapinto, J., & Minuchin, S. (2007). Working with families of the poor. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  2. Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Minuchin, S., & Fishman, H. C. (1981). Family therapy techniques. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Minuchin Center for the FamilyWoodburyUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • David Kearns
    • 1
  • Bahareh Sahebi
    • 2
  1. 1.Iowa CityUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA