The Process of Family Therapy


family therapy, couples therapy, therapy


Kansas State University. Tony and Lee have looked over the ‘‘pink intake sheet,’’ compiled from the initial telephone interview with the family, and have conversed about the nature of the case. The entire process pertaining to the case, however, has been held in abeyance until the arrival of the family for their first therapy session. Until the family arrives for therapy and begins to define, not only the nature of the problem but also the nature of the family, all other speculations, formulations, and strategies for intervention must be suspended. This process of defining the family by family members during therapy is unique in each case. People involved may include family members who are present and absent, people from their psychosocial environment, and one or more ‘‘helping service agencies.’’ Unlike research or theory in which the theoretician or researcher holds the decision-making capability for defining ‘‘family,’’ during therapy this process is shared by family members and the therapist. Whether done overtly through specific discussion or covertly by inclusion or omission, the process of defining the family has a major impact on the therapy that this family has sought.

Original Publication Citation

Jurich, A., & Johnson, L. N. (1999). The process of family therapy: Defining family as a collaborative enterprise. Marriage and Family Review, 28, 191-208. Simultaneously published in B. H. Settles (Ed.), Concepts and definitions of family for the 21st century, pp. 191-208. New York, NY: The Haworth Press, Inc.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Marriage and Family Review




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor