Compare And Contrast Of Interpersonal And Intrapersonal Perspective Relating To Family Therapy – Term Paper Example

Psychotherapy of the end of the ‘60’s witnessed a significant ideological conflict between supporters of the psychoanalytic approach and general systems theory. The major battles happened regarding some psychoanalytic concepts that run counter with the systems - cyclic causality and homeostasis. From the standpoint of psychoanalysts, intrapersonal problems of their clients ruin marital interactions, while their opponents consider the same intrapersonal problems as a resource for maintenance of a functional equilibrium in a family. Despite the fact that these disagreements exist up to the present day, some attempts were taken to integrate the systematic approach with the ideas of personal dynamics, which were based on clinical experience.
Meeting points of the two paradigms should be sought in a few key points: past / present, meaning / process and intrapersonal / interpersonal context. A psychoanalyst is focused primarily on an individual and his past, aiming to achieve insight (intrapsychic). And this is the main weakness of the concept, advocates of the systems approach state. They are concentrated on present-day interactions (interpersonal) for reduction of a symptomatic behavior. Systemic therapists tend to focus on interpersonal relationships that shed light on roots of this or that behavior. A change in interactions can be most quickly achieved during family therapy sessions, but the majority of systemic therapists pay attention to the other contexts also. Therapists, working in the paradigm of Transgenerational Psychotherapy, Murray Bowen for example, trying to change interactions in a nuclear family, always engage members of an extended family (grandparents). Structural family therapists involved teachers, social workers and friends of a family in their therapy.
The strength of the theory is that it’s not focused on components that make up a whole, but on relationships between them. Instead of focusing on each family member with subsequent “summation” of information to obtain an overall picture, they try to understand a joint functioning of all family members (whole) and only after that analyze behavior of an individual family member (part). The interpersonal approach considers each system as part of a larger system (for example, a family is a part of a community, which, in turn, is itself a part of a global social system).
References
Goldenberg, I. (1999). Family Therapy: An Overview. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub Co.