An exploration of the process of change in systemic family therapy: the therapists' perspective.

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
James-Perkins, Victoria
  • Subject: BF
    mesheuropmc: skin and connective tissue diseases | sense organs

There is a large body of literature that identifies the effectiveness of family therapy in creating change for clients. What is less understood is how this change comes about. Whilst therapists have been identified as having a significant effect on outcomes, within psychotherapies broadly and family therapy specifically, little research has been conducted on the role of the therapist in processes of change. An understanding of processes of change in family therapy is considered important in order to support therapists working systemically with clients in a way that maximises possibilities for change. This study presents an exploration of family therapists’ understandings and experiences of processes of change in family therapy. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with eleven qualified systemic therapists working in a variety of mental health settings across South Wales and the South West of England. A Constructivist Grounded Theory approach was employed to analyse participants’ accounts. Three themes relating to processes of change in family therapy were identified in the study: ‘Conceptualisations of change’, ‘creating a context of change’ and ‘the context of the therapist’. The emergent themes were compared to wider literature on the family therapist’s role in processes of change, which included empirical qualitative research that was generated through a systematic review. The findings have a range of implications for systemic therapists as well as other professionals working systemically with clients. Implications for clinical practice, training and the development of the role of the therapist working systemically with clients are discussed, and recommendations for future research are made.
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