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Introduction to Family Counseling

Introduction to Family Counseling
A Case Study Approach

Family Therapy

December 2015 | 368 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
“Engaging, Creative, and Practical” 
- Lakitta D. Johnson, Jackson State University  

Introduction to Family Counseling: A Case Study Approach presents basic knowledge about family counseling and applies various theoretical models to a case example looking at one nuclear family, along with its extended family members, that readers follow throughout the text.  Judy Esposito and Abbi Hattem’s multi-generational family is constructed from their experiences as professors and family therapists to exemplify the concepts and theories of family counseling.  Beyond the theories of family counseling, students learn about the family life cycle and various tools for assessing families as well as the history of family counseling.  Ethical issues relevant to family counseling are also included along with transcripts from hypothetical family counseling sessions throughout the book.  In addition, the book focuses on working with diverse families and takes special care to emphasize multicultural issues.

Part I: Introduction to the Family
Chapter 1: The Manning-Kelly Family
Cast List  
Presenting Problem  
History of the Presenting Problem  
Social Support  
Clinical Observations and Impressions  
Preliminary Assessment  
Theoretical Conceptualization  
Chapter 2: Families and the Family Life Cycle
The Family Life Cycle  
Chapter 3: Assessing Families Traditionally and Creatively
Traditional Assessment Methods  
Lifestyle Questionnaire  
Family Sculpting  
Christina's Family Sculpture  
Family Scripting  
Family Play Therapy  
Family Puppet Shows  
Family Build-A-House  
Family Aquarium  
Family Play Genograms  
Part II: Theories of Family Counseling
Chapter 4: The Family Systems Approach to Family Counseling
Origins of Family Counseling  
Family Systems and Family Dynamics  
Family Subsystems  
Circular Causation and Feedback Loops  
Homeostasis and Equilibrium  
Family Rules  
First and Second Order Change  
Second Order Cybernetics  
Function of the Presenting Problem in the Family  
Family Resiliency  
Systemic Assessment of the Manning-Kelly Family  
Chapter 5: Multi-Generational Family Counseling
Emotional Fusion and Differentiation of Self  
Nuclear Family Emotional Process  
Family Projection Process  
Multigenerational Transmissions  
Family Roles  
Sibling Position  
Societal Emotional Process  
Chapter 6: Structural Family Counseling
Structural Family Counseling Concepts  
Structural Family Counseling  
Using Structural Family Counseling with the Manning-Kelly Family  
Summary and Conclusions  
Chapter 7: Experiential Family Counseling
What is Experiential Counseling?  
Experiencing the Emotional Layer of the Family  
The Family System  
Experiential Counseling Interventions  
Virginia Satir's Family Growth Model  
Using Experiential Counseling with the Manning-Kelly Family  
Chapter 8: Other Approaches to Family Counseling
Adlerian Family Counseling  
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy  
Integrative Family Counseling  
Part III: Other Aspects of Family Counseling
Chapter 9: Special Topics in Family Counseling
Multicultural Families  
LGBTQIA Families  
Single-Parent Families  
Blended Families  
Families with Aging Members  
Families with Biomedical Conditions  
Families Coping with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders  
Domestic Violence  
Chapter 10: The Counselor's Experience Working with Families
The Power of Family Systems  
How Families Induce Family Counselors  
Managing Multiple Relationships  
Comfort with Diversity  
Experiencing the Family  
Experiencing the Manning-Kelly and Jones Family  
Self-Awareness, Self-Care, & Ethical Practice [+plan, bal own fam]  
The School Counselor's Experience  
Chapter 11: Ethics of Family Counseling
Protecting Clients  
Reporting Laws  
Law and Ethics  
Scope of Practice  
Ethical Decision-Making Model  
Part IV: Current Trends in Family Counseling
Chapter 12: Family Issues Requiring Services Beyond Counseling
Cultural Competence Working with Multicultural Families  
Single-Parent Families  
Blended Families  
Families with Aging Members  
Families with Biomedical Conditions  
Families Coping with Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Disorders  
Domestic Violence  
Chapter 13: Services Available to Families
Social Services  
School Counselors and School Social Workers  
In-Home Services  
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention  
Respite Care in Group Homes  
Wilderness Therapy Programs and Camps  
Employee Assistance Programs  
Support for Military Families  
Faith-Based Support Programs  
Non-Profit Agencies  
Referral Process  
Chapter 14: What's Next for the Manning-Kelly Family?
Family Counseling  
What's Next for the Manning-Kelly and Jones Family?  
What's Next for the Individual Family Members?  
Family Secrets  
What's Next for You as a Family Counselor?  

"Working with Families: A Case Study Approach offers a much needed approach to engaging students in the process of understanding and helping families. By using a multi-generational family case study, the authors open a window into working with families."

Garry M. Breland
William Carey University

“Engaging, Creative, and Practical”

Lakitta D. Johnson
Jackson State University

“You get a first-hand experience of being a family counselor as you undergo the experiential process of learning terms, skills, and concerns as you work with a family throughout this text.”

Drew Curtis
Angelo State University

“Students will enjoy learning family systems from this engaging and comprehensive text.”

Shannon Wolf
Dallas Baptist University

“[Working with Families: A Case Study Approach] is extremely thorough and provides many thought provoking exercise and activities that can be used in the classroom.”

Judith E. Beechler
Midwestern State University
Key features


  • The book is organized into three parts:
    • An overview on families
    • An overview of frequently used  models of family therapy at the undergraduate level
    • Presentation of ethics, trends, and services in counseling families
  • Engaging transcripts of family counseling sessions bring concepts and theories to life while showing assessment tools, theories, needs for additional services, and ethical issues
  • Case study approach allows students to follow how family counselors think and lets them examine family issues such as substance abuse, domestic violence, and co-parenting in blended families
  • “Stop-and-Think” features challenge students to expand their perspective from individuals to families and helps students learn to think about the family in terms of group dynamics
  • Discussion topics and exercises aimed at using the students' own experiences with families as well as their reactions to the one they are following and experiential exercises are used throughout the book to illustrate and enhance learning  

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 6

Chapter 10

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