Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Mapping in Structural Family Therapy

  • Jorge ColapintoEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_972


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...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  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

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