Many different books have been written on the concept of family therapy and the different techniques that may be used when attempting to assist individuals through their family related therapy issues. Family Therapy Techniques by Salvador Minuchin and H. Charles Fishman still manages to stand out above all of the rest, however. Dr. Minuchin has become widely known for the theoretical breakthroughs that he has made in the realm of therapy and for his many successes in the treatment of issues through the utilization of family therapy techniques and though many have attempted to copy his style and his works, none have reached the levels of success that he has attained.

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In order to work to better assist individuals who are going through therapy, Minuchin has, with the assistance of H. Charles Fishman, worked to create a veritable how-to book, clearly outlining the different techniques and tools that he uses within his process, and the text is laced liberally with cautions that though these are the techniques utilized by Minuchin, they have the potential to lose their effectiveness if incorrectly applied by someone not of the field, becoming “just unrelated tools” (Minuchin & Fishman, p. 67).

The book is primarily geared toward students of the field, as it attempts to stress the three different aspects of learning that are imperative to the successful use of the method. These three areas include the need for a theoretical knowledge base, specifically that of the family as a model of an open system, a system in transformation; that knowledge of the necessary skills and techniques are mandatory for the effectiveness of the treatments contained therein; and that the work of the therapist is an art form, one that couples the idiosyncratic use of the therapist with different levels of involvement with the patients themselves (p. 31). Students who read this book will find themselves wanting to dive right in and explore the specific techniques and their application to case studies for the purposes of gaining a better understanding of the world around them.

While some argue that in order to best understand Family Therapy Techniques it is necessary for those individuals to have read Minuchin’s previous text, Families and Family Therapy, it is the opinion of this reader that the test itself is perfectly functional as a standalone work, as long as the individual is cognizant of Minuchin, his works in the field, and has a firm grasp of the overall area of theory and treatment options currently in use within the field. The prose used by Minuchin is not only clear and easy to follow, but works to focus the reader on the subject material while, at the same time, keeping the reader’s attention in a subject matter that, it cannot be argued, some writers have the ability to dry out to the point of no return.

For an individual who is concerned with therapy techniques, wishing to stay atop of the latest developments in the field, Family Therapy Techniques should be considered a must read. For those who are as yet unfamiliar with the different nuances and associated theories and theorists within the field, Minuchin’s work is not a bad place to start, as it serves to not only provide a conceptual framework for the individual’s understanding of family dynamics and family ecology, but it is strongly recommended that a working knowledge of the field is present before attempting to enter into such a text. A must read for all individuals looking to enter this field, or already a part of the field.

  • Minuchin, Salvador and H. Charles Fishman. Family therapy techniques. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981. Print.