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La Naissance De L'Espace Familial

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image of Journal of Phenomenological Psychology

This article is the result of a theoretical analysis of a consultation family therapy interview conducted by the well-known family therapist, Dr. S. Minuchin. In the interview, Minuchin effectively challenges the family's structure and the individual members' presenting identities and social roles. Through his successful use of metaphor and techniques like confrontation, enactment and confirmation, he leads the family members out of their confinement toward interaction. Based on a phenomenologically oriented analysis, the authors propose a theoretical formulation to account for the interpersonal space created during the therapeutic process. The directing question they address is: if every member of the family is confined to and legitimates his own conception of himself and his circumstances, how can mutually influencing relations be evoked? A main hypothesis is posed: the therapist faced with conflictual relationships effects consecutive synthesis which allow movement toward desired and alternative behaviors and toward the integration of each member into the family. Initially, the presenting behaviors are of a repetitive and unidimensional nature. The therapist proceeds to unlock these states mainly by using metaphors which point towards actual behaviors and desired alternatives. He thus opens a second dimension by presenting means which make reflection possible and heightens differentiation of self. Subsequently, the family members are led toward the formation of a positive and shared identity confirmed and affectively supported by the therapist. This process results in a third dimension where family members manifest personal reflective awareness of different ways of relating to each other. Integration of the individuals into a new family matrix becomes possible.


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