György Schermann: Three phase family therapy in case of adolescent detachment problems

This study is about those families in which the adolescent’s effort to be independent leads to detachment problems. According to the author’s point of view, the position of family therapy itself doesn’t invalidate the educational situation between the parents and the adolescent, rather integrates it. The main part of the study is the exposition of a multi-phase therapeutic strategy that helps the parents to build up an effective educational approach.

The components of the three phase family therapy are: strengthening the parental subsystem, forming an indirect education attitude, and developing skills. The first and second parts of the therapy prepare the parents for the third part, which is the occasional self-limitation of the parents. The self-limitation on the part of the parents makes it easier for the adolescent to step out of the child role and temporarily step into the adult role. The result is that the parent and the adolescent can talk in an adult- to- adult position about solutions to well defined tasks. Meanwhile the parent can practice the necessary educational skills and the adolescent can practice those skills that are necessary for adult life.

Family therapies dealing with adolescent detachment problems emphasize the development of those social skills that are most important for the regulation of family life – empathy and handling conflict. These family therapies also emphasize the development of self-recognition skills closely related to the search for identity. Situational exercises, role-playing, collaborative family tasks, and their joint analysis can help to develop the necessary skills.

Key-words: the paradox of adolescence — indirect education — self-delimitation of the parents — skill development — separate sessions with the parents

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