chapter  8
9 Pages

Systemic Therapy with Individual Clients

For a period of time in the 1970s and 1980s, many therapists in the fi eld of marriage and family therapy insisted that for therapy to be effective, all members of the family should be present. Currently, working with subsystems (e.g., parental subsystems, marital dyads, and individuals as part of a family system) is more widely accepted. If a system consists of the interaction of a group of individuals, and theoretically every individual affects the system, then it follows that working in a systemic way with an individual can alter the destructive reciprocal patterns within the couple or family of which the individual is a member (Bowen, 1966). A signifi cant proportion of many couple and family therapists’ caseloads are individual clients, many of whom are working on systemic issues (a survey of practice patterns indicates that on average, over 50% of MFTs’ cases are individual clients; Simmons & Doherty, 1995). In many cases, spouses refuse to enter the therapeutic process, or individuals report that they want to work in therapy by themselves.