Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Enactment in Structural Family Therapy

  • Michael P. Nichols
  • Jorge ColapintoEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_969


In an enactment, family members are asked to talk with each other rather than to the therapist. This serves the dual purpose of allowing the therapist to see firsthand how clients interact, instead of relying on their descriptions, and having clients experience different ways of interacting (Nichols and Fellenberg 2000).

Theoretical Framework

Enactments are an essential component of Structural Family Therapy (Minuchin 1974; Minuchin and Fishman 1981). They are used to explore and change interactional and organizational problems in families: how couples talk to each other, how parents relate to their children, and how relationship triangles influence family dramas. By bringing the actual dynamics of those relationships to life in the consulting room, enactments lend immediacy and authenticity to family therapy.

Although enactments are also used in other therapeutic modalities, there is an important distinction. Outside of structural family therapy, the use is generally more...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of William and MaryWilliamsburgUSA
  2. 2.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