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Family Therapy, Systemic Therapy, and Narrative Therapy

Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy that works with families and couples to promote change and development. Griffin (1993) proposes that “Family therapy is any attempt to modify salient environmental features, most importantly interpersonal contacts or beliefs about these contacts, which alter interactional patterns, allowing the presenting problem to be unnecessary.” It prioritizes systems of interaction and relationships. Family therapy is associated with a number of distinct schools including Mental Research Institute (MRI) brief therapy, strategic therapy, structural family therapy, and the Milan systems model. Narrative therapy is derived from the philosophical ideas of Michel Foucault and was developed largely by Michael White and David Epston. It views people as separate from problems and assumes that people have competencies that can help them to change the relationships they have with problems in their lives. Narrative therapy proposes that we create many meaningful stories about our lives, desires, achievements, and failures. Which stories are dominant will affect us emotionally and will affect the choices we make. Narrative therapy is often described as ‘re-storying’ conversations, a process which helps individuals to understand their lives in terms of the stories they choose to tell. Read more
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Questions & Reflections

  • Guidance on being part of a reflecting team (unknown origin) download
  • Circular questions for assessment, formulation/evaluation, and intervention download
  • An introductory guide to circular questions download  archived copy

Treatment Manual

The Leeds Family Therapy & Research Centre produced the Leeds Systemic Family Therapy Manual, designed to be used both to standardise the therapeutic process in controlled outcome research, and also as a structure for training.


Narrative Therapy

  • The Dulwich Centre is an independent centre in Australia concerned with narrative therapy. They have articles by Michael White, and a publications page including free articles regarding narrative and other forms of therapy.
  • Workshop notes (Externalising conversations, therapeutic posture, re-authoring conversations) | Michael White   download archived copy
  • Re-authoring: commonly asked questions | Carey & Russell download archived copy
  • Beating sneaky poo  download archived copy

Recommended Reading

  • Boston, P. (2000). Systemic family therapy and the influence of post-modernism. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 6, 450-457  download


  • Griffin, W. A. (1993). Family therapy: Fundamentals of theory and practice (Vol. 1). Psychology Press.
  • Morgan, A. (2000). What is narrative therapy? Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications.