Strategic family therapy is a solution-oriented, brief type of therapy offered to families. The therapist takes a leading roll in identifying conflicts and designing solutions for those conflicts. This type of therapy was developed by Jay Haley as a solution for lower socio-economic class families, whose problems were not addressed by current methods of therapy.
Strategic family therapy was first developed in the 1950s by a psychologist named Jay Haley. Haley was disappointed and discouraged with the results of established methods of family therapy. He noted that the social problems and intra-psychic conflicts addressed by existing therapies didn't apply to lower socio-economic classes, but only addressed the problems of the middle class. Haley, with the help of other pioneer psychologists of the era, decided to design a therapy that would allow the therapist to identify and develop solutions to a family's unique social problems.
One of the major defining characteristics of this type of therapy is that it is a therapist-driven therapy. This is not the case in a lot of other types of therapies, which are client-driven. Therapist-driven therapy means that the therapist is responsible for directing the change within the family or individual. The therapist identifies conflicts and provides solutions for those conflicts.
Another characteristic of strategic family therapy that sets it apart is that it doesn't include introspection in the therapeutic process. A lot of other types of therapy delve deeply into the thoughts, feelings, and history of the person or family in therapy. Strategic family counseling, however, sticks to the present and immediate problem, not focusing on the underlying cause of the problem.
This method of therapy is very solution oriented and can be broken down into five general stages. The first stage is identifying solvable problems. The second stage is setting goals, followed by the next stage of designing interventions to achieve stated goals. The fourth stage is reviewing the response to the established interventions, and finally the fifth stage involves reviewing the overall success or failure of the therapy.
Critics of strategic family therapy take issue with the same argument that advocates use for its effectiveness. Advocates of this therapy say its effectiveness is largely due to the amount of therapist intervention, but critics see this as more of a drawback. The amount of progress is dependent on how much work the individuals of the family are willing to do. Some therapists think it's ineffective for the therapist to take such an active roll in the change of clients.