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Family and Individual Therapy

Theoretical Differences between Family and Individual Therapy

There is a significant difference between individual and family therapies. According to Winek (2010), individual therapists tend to focus on enhancing an individual’s self, problem-solving and decision-making as well as coping responses. Additionally, in individual therapy, one is assessed against the fixed norms of the established standards of psychopathology. However, family therapy focuses on applying the problem-solving skills to resolve the marital or intimate relationships issues to enhance a peaceful coexistence in a family. The clients in family therapy focus on the idea of improving intimate relationships.

In individual therapy, a therapist attempts to achieve the objective of finding the cause of painful emotions exhibited by the client while a family therapist pays attention to the people in the room (Winek, 2010). In conducting their analysis, the family practitioners are compelled to evaluate the mutual influence that the couples exhibit. They also explore the purpose of and the in-depth interactions themselves, in which their clients are bound to engage because of cohabiting.

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The intervention model set for an individual therapist may involve the DSM-IV model in examining the client’s psychological condition. However, a family practitioner will intervene in ways that are meant to help in initiating change in the familial patterns that cause depression. Moreover, they do not deny the significance of an individual in the family system, but they believe in an individual’s systematic affiliations and the aspect that enhances a person’s life.

The ethical practice of a family practitioner demands equality in the commitment of each family member. Therefore, it may become difficult in a situation where family members have conflicting views regarding the therapeutic process (Corey, Corey, & Callan, 2007). In the U.S., it is a legal obligation for a therapist to uphold public trust and undergo high-level training in the ethical application of counseling practices. However, for family therapists, the primary requirement is maintaining neutrality in making a therapeutic response to the issues of couples.

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The primary difference is that the ethical standards designed for an individual therapist influence their behavior when having a client with mental issues. On the other hand, the legal and ethical standards designed for family therapists involve the concepts autonomy and justice. The following scenario is a case that involves a unique ethical implication.

Jane has a problem with her family regarding the decision of a person to marry. Jane comes from a culture that prohibits marrying a person with Asian heritage. However, she has an Asian boyfriend who has proposed her to marry him. Her parents are against the idea, but she persists that the choice of a man to marry should be hers to make. This issue becomes serious and has detrimental effects on Jane’s well-being. She decides to approach a family therapist for a solution to her predicament. Being ethically obligated, the family practitioner is expected to seek the opinions of Jane’s boyfriend and Jane’s family to resolve her dilemma. However, the issue becomes more complicated because Jane’s family insists that it is against their culture to marry an Asian.

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On the one hand, this case appears to be a significant ethical dilemma because the family does not seem to favor Jane. On the other hand, the therapist is expected to maintain neutrality in initiating a significant intervention that will help curb Jane’s mental depression. Corey, Corey, and Callan (2007) have pointed out that prompting family members to respond to an issue can raise the question of social coercion which can interfere with the application of ethics in counseling. In addition, the law protects an individual’s right to freedom of choice and expression as long as they do not cause harm to others.

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