FAMILY SECRETS: The Experience of Emotional Crisis by Mel & Sara Blackburn Roman

FAMILY SECRETS: The Experience of Emotional Crisis

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In contrast to Jacobs' Interplay (p. 174), which presents composites of one-to-one psychotherapy, this collaboration focuses on family therapy. Often one member of a family emerges as ""sick"" when tensions within the family become unbearable; family therapy attempts to identify those tensions and realign the balance without straining genuine ties of affection. In other words, the family can be implicated in an individual's emotional crisis without being cast as villains, can develop more productive ways of communicating, and can learn to alter behavior patterns when gross manifestations of stress appear. Roman and Blackbum use six cases to indicate the potentials and limitations of treatment, including one involving a combination of chermotherapy (for manic-depression) and joint counseling. The problems are representative rather than bizarre, and not all respond to therapy: one couple's marriage counseling resembles an unremitting courtroom battle. Family therapy developed in the Fifties, splintered and branched out in the Sixties; today its often-clashing practitioners still struggle to agree on its elusive precepts. Roman and Blackburn introduce--cursorily--the methodological differences of Bowen and Minuchin, and also mention a danger common to all therapies: the tendency of professionals to see what they're looking for. As a first perspective on family therapy, it's broader and less problematic than Napier and Whitaker's The Family Crucible (1978), and the recommended readings include not just standard texts (by Ackerman, Satir, Henry, Laing) but also more literary versions of tense family straits (Go Tell It On the Mountain. The Woman Warrior, Kaddish).

Pub Date: March 28th, 1979
Publisher: Times Books