The Center for Family Learning




                This section contains a selection of chapters from Family Therapy: Theory and Practice, edited by

Dr. Guerin. Adopted as a textbook in more than two hundred and fifty graduate schools in this country and abroad, this book covers the field of family therapy in depth and is among the out-of-print texts exclusively available for viewing on this site. The chapters we've posted were chosen because of their notable historical significance in the field of family therapy. Each of these chapters offers models that have been proven to be effective in a clinical setting. Part I includes a chapter on the first twenty-five years of the field.  Part II presents eight theoretical chapters, including key concepts of family system theory, structural family treatment, systems concepts as they relate to the nuclear family, and communication theory as the basis for the formation of models of intervention that foster clinical improvement. Part III involves clinical issues on the general topics of family membership in psychotherapy sessions and symptom focused families in therapy. There are chapters on the children in family therapy, social networks as the unit of intervention, the child-centered family, the issue of alcohol and the family system, marital crisis, on death in the family, under organization in some poor families, and multiple-family therapy. Part IV of the text is on techniques and includes chapters on family choreography, the use of the arts in family therapy, cross-confrontation, and integrating immediate video playback in family therapy.


"Family Therapy- The First Twenty-Five Years" by Philip J. Guerin M.D.

As the first publication to establish an overview of the field as it developed in its first twenty-five years, this text discusses the various schools of thought within the field of family therapy at that time.  Each school’s key players and their core concepts as well as the clinical application of their methods and models are presented. It turned out to be one of the most cited and referenced chapters in the book.   


"Theory in the Practice of Psychotherapy" by Murray Bowen M.D.

 Bowen’s chapter presents an updated and refined version of the work he originally published in the Journal of Comprehensive Psychiatry in 1966.  It is the first full-fledged presentation of his ideas on family systems theory and therapy which were developed initially at the family division of the National Institute of Mental Health and continued later at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.


"Family Reaction to Death" by Murray Bowen M.D.

            On a visit to the Family Studies division of the Department of Psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the early 1970s, Dr. Bowen did a lengthy clinical interview of a family in which the mother was facing the likelihood of death from her cancer of the breast. He spent over an hour slowly peeling open this family, which was emotionally closed in reaction to the impending death.  This chapter represents the expansion and elaboration of his thinking on the importance of being able to open a closed system faced with an imminent death in order to diminish significantly the degree of emotional fallout that would otherwise occur. His concepts and clinical methods applied to this universal problem are both educational and inspirational.


"Theoretical Aspects and Practical Relevance of the Multigenerational Model in Family Therapy" by Katherine B. Guerin, MA and Philip Guerin M.D.

             In this chapter the Guerins present a practical way to link the symptoms in a family or an individual with the underlying family emotional process.  This connection is demonstrated in a way that allows  therapists to see the combination of  individual developmental problems, relationship conflicts and intensely polarized relationship triangles to surface in a way that fosters detoxification and resolution.


"Evaluation of Family Systems and Genogram" by Philip Guerin M.D.,

Eileen G. Pendagast, MA                 

            In the early years of family therapy Bowen organized his teaching around what he called the family diagram. In the late 1960s Philip Guerin teaching “study your own family groups” first at Einstein and later at the Center for Family Learning came to believe from observation of the trans-generational nature of ETOH abuse, extramarital affairs etc. that not only family emotional process but biological genetic factors were driving the development of a family’s relationship history. Hence, the evolution of the term “family diagram” into the “genogram”  In Ferber’s The Book of Family Therapy in 1972 Guerin elaborated and expanded the notion of the family diagram and, for the first time in the literature, termed it the “genogram”. In this chapter Guerin and Pendagast elaborate on how the genogram may be used to map out the structure of the family relationship system and also document critical emotionally loaded events and the subsequent fallout that often reshapes the very structure of the system.


"The Use of the Arts in Family Therapy- I Never Sang For My Father" by Philip Guerin, M.D.

            This chapter is a description of the use of a classic application of displacement theory in a clinical setting using movies or plays as a model for families. The use of the arts in therapy allows for detoxification of the family dysfunction and for difficult subjects to be discussed in a detached way that helps families get in touch with their own issues.