Murray Bowen, MD|
edited by Ruth Riley Sagar, MA and Catherine Murphy Rakow, MSW
This paper will describe some experiences with family psychotherapy for a wide range of problems treated in the office practice of psychotherapy. The starting point was a formal family research project in which fathers, mothers, and normal siblings lived on a research ward with psychotic patients in a continuing in residence observation and treatment situation. A few months later, I began using it with an increasing number of families in my part-time private practice. The research provided the ideas, and the practice provided clinical experience with different kinds of problems. In five years, this method of family psychotherapy was used with ninety-four families, for problems ranging from those with an overtly psychotic family member to those with fairly simple neurotic problems. The group included sixteen families with an overtly psychotic offspring, nine families with delinquent or near delinquent problems in teenage children, twenty-one families with behavior and learning problems in pre- or post-adolescent children, and forty-eight husband-wife families with problems ranging from those in which one spouse was overtly psychotic, to those that began with intensive analytic treatment for one spouse and terminated with family psychotherapy (it would really be more accurate to call this family psychoanalysis) for both. Treatment courses have ranged from brief family psychotherapy of six to twenty hours to fairly long-term psychotherapy of 200 to 300 hours extending over two to three years.