ABSTRACT

Students of family therapy as well as therapists experienced in work with individuals frequently report that their first encounters with families are overwhelming and exhausting. Several interrelated factors contribute to the taxing nature of family therapy. One is the enormous amount of sensory material with which the therapist is bombarded throughout a family therapy session. Second, this material is linked to several levels of systems organization to which the therapist must attend simultaneously. These levels range from organismic activity to the social life of the family group as a whole. The therapist is able to handle consciously only a fraction of this input. Some of it goes unnoticed, but a large fraction is also registered out of awareness and in a sometimes disturbing and confusing way. The experience of a family can, in fact, be overpowering.