for the Family
1. The Wiltwyck School For Boys.
In the early 1960s, Salvador Minuchin gathered a team of therapists and researchers and set out to transform the institutional setting of a correctional facility for young delinquents into a family-oriented treatment program.
Families of the Slums (Minuchin et al., 1967) recounts the experience, which started at the opposite end of the traditional psychodynamic approach –with a sociological analysis of the impact of social context on poor families.
The typical Wiltwyck client was the “urban, minority group member who is experiencing poverty, discrimination, fear, crowdedness, and street-living,” and his family tended to be underorganized.
Because the style of interaction in these families was more concrete and action-oriented than abstract and verbal, the team adopted and developed alternative, “more doing than talking” techniques: role playing, “enactments”, home-based modalities of treatment, and other nontraditional forms.
2. The Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic
In 1967 Minuchin was appointed director of the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, an outpatient and inpatient facility serving an urban population.
He recruited Braulio Montalvo and Jay Haley to help train the clinic’ staff to work with families, as well as "lay therapists" –minority paraprofessionals with no formal degree.
The clinic’s association with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia also provided an opportunity to apply the vision of the family as the context for understanding and treating diabetes, asthma, and anorexia.
Unlike the underorganized families of Wiltwyck, these “psychosomatic families” appeared to be too tightly organized. Enactments, first implemented at Wiltwyck to facilitate communication with and among nonverbal clients, were now applied to help clients who talked too much.
The classic Families and Family Therapy was published in 1974, followed by Psychosomatic Families (1978, with Rosman and Baker), and Family Therapy Techniques (1981, with Charles Fishman).
3. Family Studies and the Minuchin Center for the Family
In 1981 Salvador Minuchin left Philadelphia for New York and founded Family Studies, a training and consultation institute.
With the assistance of a small group of collaborators, he continued training family therapists and expanded the application of Structural Family Therapy to the understanding and transformation of the interaction between marginalized families and the agencies that serve them.
Upon Minuchin’s retirement in 1996, the institute was renamed The Minuchin Center For The Family and remains committed to the mission of empowering families and the agencies and practitioners who work in their behalf.
Publications from this era include Family Kaleidoscope (Minuchin, 1984); Institutionalizing Madness (Elizur & Minuchin, 1989); Family Healing (Minuchin and Nichols, 1993); Mastering Family Therapy (Minuchin, Lee, & Simon, 1996 and 2006); Beyond Technique In Family Therapy (Simon, 2003); Working With Families Of The Poor (Minuchin, Colapinto, & Minuchin, 1998 and 2007); and Assessing Families And Couples (Minuchin, Nichols, & Lee, 2007).
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