Sunday, May 26, 2013

The dyadic approach to family therapy

Case 1. Present are mother, father and 18 year old son. Presenting problem is son’s addiction to the internet which results in little socializing, low income from a very part time job and not getting on with life in general.

Traditional family therapy would see the son’s difficulty as a response to the parents marital problems, designed to keep the parents distracted from it.

Another possibility is to look at the family as a collection of dyads. A collection of coupling within the family. These coupling relationships can be seen to

Strongest dyad  -  father son

Second dyad - husband  wife

Weakest dyad  - mother son

Walking ladies

Strongest dyad in the family is the father son. This can be seen to be the dominant dyad of the three possibilities in terms of it having the most influence on how the family functions and structures itself at this point in time. In this instance I highlighted to the family that it was being significantly effected by having two dominant males.

Like those nature shows where the bull sea lion has his harem of females on the beach. From time to time along comes another male who wants to be the dominant one and they have a fight to decide that. The loser then takes off and order is restored with the one dominant male on the beach. This family had the same kind of dynamic going on in the father son couple.

However in this family one of the males simply can’t leave like the sea lion can and so they have to some how coexist on the same beach. The son has however removed himself to his bedroom but still regularly asserts himself in the family and dominating by not doing what he is supposed to do - get a job and grow up basically.

The focus to date has been mainly on strengthening the mother son dyad. One of the most obvious ways to alter a family structure is to strengthen and weaken the various dyads. Once done then the family structure would be different.

woman pours paint

This view of families or human groups has direct and immediate consequences for couples therapy. Couples therapy is also a collection of three dyads 

Husband  wife
Husband  therapist
Wife   therapist.

In this case the dyads can be strengthened by having individual sessions with only one party with the other marital party not present but aware the other is having an individual session.


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