Leone Centre Glossary

Strategic family therapy

Strategic family therapy

Strategic family therapy is a unique method within family therapy, focusing on problem-solving and changing dysfunctional family patterns. This approach looks to enhance family interactions and relationships through carefully planned interventions.

Addressing dynamics

Strategic family therapy often addresses recurring family conflicts, communication issues, and behavioural challenges. It helps families identify and interrupt problematic cycles that hinder healthy interactions.

In-depth understanding

Strategic family therapy centres around understanding and altering the dynamics within a family. By focusing on short-term, goal-oriented interventions, it aims to bring about specific changes in family behaviour and interaction patterns. The approach often includes:

  1. Assessing family interactions and identifying problem areas.
  2. Developing and implementing specific interventions.
  3. Monitoring progress and adjusting interventions as needed.

About the therapy

Strategic family therapy is a directive form of family therapy that emphasises the role of family structure and patterns of communication. It was developed in the 1950s and 1960s by researchers such as Jay Haley and Milton Erickson.

How it helps

This approach aids families in breaking free from entrenched behavioural patterns. By focusing on altering these patterns, families can develop healthier ways of interacting and resolving conflicts.

How it works

Therapists use a variety of interventions, often planned and executed in a deliberate manner. The therapy sessions are typically brief and focus on specific goals, enabling families to see progress in a shorter period.


What is the primary goal of strategic family therapy?
The primary goal is to identify and alter dysfunctional family patterns, promoting healthier interactions.
How long does strategic family therapy typically last?
It varies, but this therapy often involves brief, focused sessions aimed at achieving specific changes within the family dynamics.
Who can benefit from strategic family therapy?
Families experiencing recurring conflicts, communication issues, or behavioural challenges may find this approach particularly beneficial.


  1. Nichols, M. P. (2013). Family therapy: Concepts and methods. Pearson.
  2. Haley, J. (1976). Problem-solving therapy. Jossey-Bass.
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision