ABSTRACT

Throughout life, families and individual family members encounter both normative and nonnormative life transitions, which sometimes result in considerable turmoil within the family. Many seek therapy in the midst of these upheavals. Others seem little affected by the life transitions. This chapter suggests that there are three important variables that account for most families' responses to life transitions: the degree of disruption of time schedules, the number of new decisions involving initial disagreement, and the level of pretransition conflict. It proposes simple means for assessing the three variables, and advocates that on the basis of the assessment, a family's likely response to the life transitions can be predicted. Treatment of families usually occurs within the boundaries of one of six schools of family therapy (see Levant, 1984). It is recommended that on the basis of the anticipated response of the family to the life transition, the family receive family treatment using a theory that is most likely to produce a successful outcome.