Multifaith Perspectives on Family Therapy Models

Drs. Christie Eppler and Rebecca Cobb co-authored “Multifaith Perspectives on Family Therapy Models” in the Journal of Family Psychotherapy. This qualitative research analyzed how thirty-seven participants from six faith orientations, including 20 denominations or sects, perceived the alignment between their faith traditions and family systems theory, structural family therapy, Bowen’s multigenerational theory, and narrative family therapy. Patterns across responses indicate that family systems theory concepts are compatible across diverse faith traditions. Structural family therapy’s emphasis on restructuring boundaries and hierarchy is compatible across faith traditions as long as cultural and religious norms are carefully considered. Bowen’s concepts of detriangulation and differentiation are compatible across faith traditions, but particular beliefs may contradict the transmission of family patterns. Core concepts of narrative family therapy are compatible across faith traditions as long as therapists honor intuitive processes, include stories from clients’ faith traditions, and do not instill stories of false hope. Regardless of model, some clients may resist definitions of psychological dysfunction and understand illness and change as supernatural.