The Family Crucible: a Systemic Approach Essay

1322 Words Jan 16th, 2013 6 Pages
The Brice Family: A systemic approach
Juli Baines
January 9, 2013
Jenny Brenn, MFT, LCADC

The Brice Family: A systemic approach
The Family Crucible, written by Augustus Napier and Carl Whitaker (1978), exemplifies a fragmented family system. The family consists of David a VIP lawyer, Carolyn an angry mother, Claudia an enraged teenager, Don the 11-year-old peacemaker, and six-year-old Laura. Co-therapists, Napier and Whitaker have taken on the task of working with the family using a systemic approach to conceptualize the family’s difficulties. Herein, this writer will describe how Whitaker and Napier depict the family struggles, how these struggles relate to the family unit in deference to an individual focus, and how
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Whitaker’s (1978) conceptualization of the dynamic was evident when he told the family “It’s really the family that has the anxiety about everybody’s getting together, and the family he’s acting for” (p. 9). Recognizing the importance of Don’s participation in the therapeutic process, the family agreed to a second session with all members present.
During the second session, the family was provided individual opportunities to relate his or her perceptions of the struggles in the family. Using Claudia as the identified patient, the family related struggles directly associated with Claudia’s behavior (Nichols, 2013, p. 15). Whitaker (1978) conceptualized the issues in a different perspective stating, “sounds like Claudia is in charge of getting Mom and Dad to start fighting, and you and Laura are in charge of helping them stop” (p. 11). Whitaker also indicated the parallels involving Carolyn’s anger at Claudia for hiding in her room and David’s propensity to hide in his study (p. 11). Using the unconscious frame of reference from session one, another conceptualization that was presented was that of Don’s willingness to talk as the reason that the family had not wanted to bring him to the first session (p. 12).
As the session progressed, Whitaker (1978) explored the family, trying to uncover the structure, the tone, and the patterns in the family that were deeper and more significant than Claudia’s problems. Some
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