Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Family Function and Dysfunction in Structural Family Therapy

  • Jorge ColapintoEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_966


Structural Family Therapy deems a family functional when it manages to maintain cohesiveness among its members while allowing for their individual differentiation, and dysfunctional when either cohesiveness or differentiation is sacrificed for the sake of the other.

Theoretical Context

Structural Family Therapy views the family as an organization whose function is “the support, regulation, nurturance, and socialization of its members.” (Minuchin 1974, p. 14). To fulfill such function, the family must develop rules that restrict individual freedoms. Family members must accept some degree of interdependency (e.g., between spouses) and some form of hierarchy (e.g., between parents and children). But the family also needs to change those rules as required by its evolution (e.g., as children grow, they should become less dependent on parental nurturance and control, and freer to explore new relationships), as well as by external events (a move to another city, loss of a job,...

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  1. Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard.Google Scholar
  2. Minuchin, S., Reiter, M., & Borda, C. (2013). The craft of family therapy: Challenging certainties. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

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