Family counselling initially was carried out on legal, medical, reproductive and social aspects of family life, children’s upbringing and education problems. Period of 1940ies and beginning of 1960ies was marked by establishing and unfolding of counselling services of psychological help to family couples. The period of 1930-1940 gave birth to a special practice of family counselling, shifting focus from psychical disorders of a person on the problems of communication between the spouses (Bowen, 1966). In 1950ies the term and practice of family therapy/counselling was established. Unlike psychoanalyses, where the intra-psychical processes were in the center of attention, family counselling was aimed at interpersonal optimization of family functioning as a single whole. In 1949 US social bodies have elaborated professional standards for carrying out of spouses and family counselling, while in 1963 in California fist rules and norms of family psychoanalysts’ licensing were introduced (Brammer, et al., 1993). An important source of family development psychotherapy and psychoanalyses became the interdisciplinary relations of psychology, psychiatry and practice of social work (M. Bowen, 1966). Family counselling represents relatively new compared to psychotherapy direction of psychological help to families.
One of the most significant factors for family counselling was reorientation of psychoanalyses on work with family in the form of spouse therapies and child-parent relationship practice. The beginning of system approaches to psychoanalyses for family counselling can be connected with works of Ackerman (1962); attachment theory of Bowlby (1986); and distribution of behavioral diagnostic methods and therapies on work with families (Satir, 1983). Due to significant success in family psychoanalyses and wild growth of demand for such services, the number of members in American Therapeutic Association in sphere of family and marriage relations has almost doubled from 1978 to 1986. Development of practice in family psychoanalyses provoked the development of scientific researches in family relations, what brought to foundation of a separate independent psychological discipline – the family psychology/psychoanalyses. Parallel to development of family psychotherapy and psychology an active establishment of sexology as a science has also taken place (Kinsey, 1953). Recent researches of family counselling distinguish three main stages in family psychoanalyses (Eidemiller & Justizkis, 2008). The first stage “psychiatric” represents a family as a unity of incoming individualities in need of elaborating the recommendations concerning optimization of the family life. On the second stage “psychodynamic/psychoanalytic”, the focus of the therapy becomes the inadequate behavior models formed in the childhood and carried over later by an individual to married life and parent – child relationships (Eidemiller & Justizkis, 2008). Finally, the third stage –”system psychotherapy”, which is characterized by synthesis of system approach and psychology of relations, pathologized by family heritage (Eidemiller & Justizkis, 2008). The leading principle of family psychotherapy, developed within this direction frame, becomes the principle of mutual acceptance of a psychoanalyst and a family.
Theoretical Background and Goals of Family Counselling
The history of psychoanalytical approaches development and family counselling are extremely closely interconnected and interdependent; therefore, it gives grounds to researches and practicing psychiatrists to consider the family counselling as a variety of the family psychotherapy (Eidemiller & Justizkis, 2008). In order to solve the question of whether family counselling is a kind of family psychotherapy or some other kind of qualitative psychological practice dealing with psychological help, I have to specify the concept of “psychotherapy”, outline the commonalities and differences of family counselling and psychotherapy. The problem of social, scientific and applied status, content and perspectives of psychotherapy development in the context of psychological establishment practice in modern society has become the issue of deep analyses and burning international discussion (Brent, Kolko & Birmaher et al., 1998). Psychotherapy (treatment of soul) is considered as a special kind of interpersonal relations/dependence, when a patient, suffering a certain disorder, is given professional treatment by means of psychology, which helps to solve severe psychological problems (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2013). Today I can speak of psychotherapy in sociological, psychological and philosophical aspects. In philosophical aspect psychotherapy represents a certain instrument of human communication, in sociological – a tool of social control and conscious manipulation and, finally, in psychological – a method of psychological influence, providing personal growth, development and education.
The goals of family counselling can be determined as developing, correctional, preventive and adaptive. These goals are primarily connected with the growth of family resources in sphere of self-organization and self-development (Brammer & Abrego, 1993). The result of psychoanalytical counselling becomes the growth of family competence in questions of normative and non-normative solutions of crisis and problems. Besides, such counselling presupposes optimization of family role structure, solidarity, satisfaction increase and improvement of interpersonal communication.
Psychoanalyses helps the families to grow tolerance to frustrative situations and adapt to tensions among the family members achieving successful solution of conflicts, crisis and problems. It is obvious that division of all the goals is possible only on the level of scientific abstraction. In real counselling practice achievement of all the goals becomes real during the integral process of mutual communication of the family and the consultant over a certain life situation (Carter & McGoldrick, 1988). However, I can say that different theoretical approaches and schools of family counselling focus attention on different goals. For instance, in behavioral approach the accent is shifted on both adaptation of client’s behavior and the solution of adaptive tasks. In humanistic-oriented approach, the center of cooperation becomes the personal growth and client’s self-development, while in family counselling the center is the family as an integrated unity (Satir & Baldwin, 1983). An important social task of family counselling is a consulting of family members in difficult situation. Its characteristics: child disadaptation and puerilism; spouses' misalignment, inadequate cooperation of the family with social environment (micro and macro-social medium); personal disorders and disorganization in the family (Ackerman, 1962). The process of counselling should include practical structures such as centers of psychological-social and pedagogical family support, development of education, social sphere branches, managerial and administrative institutions and, most important, specialists, working with the family. Tasks, forms and methods of work with the family are distinguished depending on the sphere of family relations and stages of family’s development lifecycle. The primary psychoanalytical tasks in sphere of family relations counselling include specifically elaborated couple therapies (hope-focused approach) (Ripley & Worthington, 2014). Among other tasks we can add counselling on issues of marriage, including the choice of the spouse; counselling on family relations (diagnostics, correction, prevention); psychological help during the divorce process; consulting, diagnostics, prevention, correction of child-parent relationships; marital infidelity and violence counselling; psychological help in questions of child adoption and upbringing (Eidemiller & Justizkis, 2008). New services may also include psychological follow-up of pregnancy and births and parenthood establishing
A new direction of counselling work has become the consulting via mass media, for instance, answers to reader’s questions on the pages of psychological journals, newspapers and TV programs. Among other measures of counselling, I can find issue related literature and radio sources tackling family problems and child-parent relations; internet sites, including interactive forms of families counselling (Dozier, 2000). “Achilles' heel” of such forms of counselling work is impossibility of individual approach to each case. Distant psychoanalysis and diagnosing/treatment is absolutely prohibited in medicine while the price of the mistake can be too high. While centers working with families belong to different structures and institutions, I see a necessity to coordinate their efforts under the aegis of certain state/social structure. Unfortunately, now there are centers combining functions of integration, coordination, organization and control of all structures working in the sphere of family counselling. Another serious problem is unsatisfactory level of trained and qualified specialists-psychologists, psychoanalysts and psychiatrists who could professionally help in family counselling issues. Establishment of theoretical basis of family counselling should be another actual task able to differentiate the difficulties of own family counselling and psychotherapy.
Psychoanalytical Approaches and Empirical Findings
Empirical evidence shows that there is substantial pluralistic theoretical background of family counselling, basing on established laws of psychotherapy and rules of family functioning. The criteria of differentiation of psychoanalytical approaches in family work include the “unit” analyses of family functioning. Within the theoretical frames of atomistic additive approach such a unit can be any family member as a unique personality (Blass, 2002). In this approach, any family is regarded as a unity of interdependent personalities, who cooperate with each other in a certain way. Life-sustaining family activity is a result of simple summation of all family members’ activities. Family is regarded as an integral unit having functional and structural role. Psychoanalysts consider the history of family development, time retrospective and possible perspectives analyzing the difficulties of family’s lifecycle and its dysfunction (Framo, 1970).
Another approach – a psychoanalytical one, tackles preferable child-parent relations. Determining the personality development and success of family relation in future. The unit of analyses is a personality/individual being in relations with his/her partner. Oedipus complex and complex of Electra represent the basic patterns of such relations (Schacter, 2009). It is assumed, that in marriage relations patients are striving unconsciously to repeat basic models of relations with own parents. Exactly this circumstance becomes the cause of corresponding family experience and building up of similar family events from one generation to another. Achieving of autonomy and rebuilding of relations is the main goal of psychoanalytical process (Schacter, 2009).
Among other psychoanalytical approaches, worth mentioning are behavioral approach, where I underline the importance of mutual exchange balance. The unit of analyses here is a personality cooperating with other family members. Phenomenological approach on the contrary considers a family system as a whole unit focusing on the major principle of “here and now”, underlining the importance of real communication and cooperation as a system of verbal and non-verbal emotionally communicative acts, which compose the subject of psychoanalytical impact on the family (Satir, 1988). System approach also represents the family as an integrate unit, where the structure of the family is put in the center. Distribution of domination roles, rules of communication and repetitive patterns as a reason of family difficulties and dysfunctionality are regarded in system approach as a main structure of family psychoanalysis (Ferster, 1973).
In order to integrate the psychoanalysis and the system theory a transgeneration approach should be considered. The unit of analyses in this case becomes a family with all its members, where the relations between the spouses are built in accordance with the parents’ family traditions and models of behavior, adopted in childhood (Nelson, et al., 1993). The choice of partners and building of relations between spouses and child-parent relations are based on previous objective relations with the parents and attempts to fit actual relations in the family to the internalized earlier models of family behavior (Framo, 1970). The principle of historism is a key element in transgeneration approach. Thus, as a family system here I am inclined to consider an intergeneration family, while the difficulties of family functioning are connected with low differentiation and autonomation level of personality from family by birth (M. Bowen, 1966). Despite of certain differences in all mentioned approaches concerning the viewpoints and paths of problems solutions, I can elicit common goals in theoretical explanatory models (Eidemiller & Justizkis, 2008). First, I need to mention plasticity of family role structure, flexibility of role distribution, and its interchangeability; second, establishment of reasonable balance in domination and communication issues; third, dealing with family problems and decrease of negative symptoms; and finally, establishing of conditions for I-concept development and personal growth of all family members.
Christian Faith Approach to Family Counselling: A New Conversation
I have to outline one more extremely important approach of family counselling, which has a tremendous influence on family relations – Christian faith. The problem of ethic development and personal growth is closely connected with family relations, virtues and moral stances in it. Therefore, Christian perspectives of family counselling represent the role of upbringing, forming of moral norms and virtues in diades parent-child, therapist-patient, family-child (L. Aron, 1996). In Christian faith, the problems of a child, as a rule, are the consequence of erroneous parent behavior models. In this respect, Christianity helps to form an integral image of parents including negative and positive family experience. Family conflict can ruin integrity of these images. Carter & Narramore (1979) underlined the importance of sin concept and examples of sins influence on moral development of children and family members at large. According to Sigmund Freud’s (1927) understanding of religion, Christianity is nothing more than a fantasy or illusion; his viewpoint he explained as “religious beliefs are based on desires that cannot be challenged and they lie in the infantile past of the individual when he sought protection from the mother and the father”. Naturally, the church treated his approach to Christianity and psychoanalyses with great caution. Conversations about merging of psychoanalytic and Christian faith approaches have recently become popular. Psychoanalyses being a product of post Enlightenment epoch was aimed at deep empirical analyses of human pathology with all its unconscious manifestations. I need to mention Christian faith and psychoanalyses were kind of “competing” with each other for better understanding of human uniqueness and soul. In this paper, I want to underline the necessity for Christianity and psychoanalyses to provoke a new conversation. Theology and psychoanalytic theory can present a quite new look on integrity of Christian thought and human nature. I think that psychoanalyses have no reason to compete with faith by become the instrument of God’s providence. Christian faith can set a good example of pure psychoanalytical approach to family counselling sharing an extensive experience of Christian pedagogics and psychology based on religion, purity of mind and spirit. These moral stances awake ethic feelings, helping to percept actions, soul motions, thoughts, distinction between doings an sayings, rethinking of experience and tasks, which circulate inside each family (Jones, 1991).
Christian moral claims to be the instrument able to improve human relations, child-parent relations and family life. I have to admit that psychoanalyses and Christian model does not go hand in hand through counselling issue while tackle absolutely different tasks. However, psychoanalyses, especially when it deals with family questions, independent from all philosophical conclusions and postulates, does not contradict the Christian faith. Methodologies and principles of psychoanalyses reecho in many dimensions. Therefore, it makes sense if Christian priests get to know the basic grounds of psychoanalyses to help congregation members to struggle with difficulties in their families (Jones, 1991).
According to the basics of Christian faith knowing the traditions of Christianity is not enough to enter the real Christian life, the family should primarily, provide a deliberate Christian life of a human soul, because only soul can go from the knowledge about God to the perception of God, encouraging a human for spiritual growth. Every family member should strive to a spiritual growth in order to be able to successfully purify one’s sins and help other family members to do the same (Maddox, 2004). Christian faith cherishes family traditions and takes an active participation in family life by determining certain necessary steps for Christian traditions establishment. Among such steps I can outline catechesis, prayers learning, perception of own sinful nature, hearty penance and humility (Myers, 2000). Compared to psychoanalysis approaches, Christian faith for family counselling may be an indispensable continuous therapy, which could efficiently treat minds and souls of family members. Psychotherapist or a church representative (priest) can combine Christian psychoanalyses, moral values and professional responsibility treating patients who belong to Christian faith (Myers, 2000). Here, I would like to outline a specific topic – relations between the psychotherapist and Christian patient with respect to existing prejudices and in some cases fear of Christian contingent to visits psychotherapists.
Despite all the benefits that the Christian faith can grant to a believer, certain individuals suffering from various disorders are reluctant to consult the psychotherapist (professional expert), hoping to be cured by faith and prayers. In our opinion, psychotherapist should play a role of a professional specialist, supporting the treatment strategies by knowledge and experience while understanding the subjective experience and problems of each family member. I think it is extremely important to offer such forms of communication to Christian contingent, which could explain the roots of psychological difficulties of the disorder through the Bible, providing examples of psychological symptoms of the disorder as a result of spiritual problems.
I would also like to stress a special responsibility of a psychotherapist in work with religious people, while these people get into dependency from such treatment and thus get dependent from psychotherapists’ moral stances and virtues (Strawn & Brown, 2004). Therefore, inner and spiritual work are indispensable for a highly qualified specialist. Psychoanalyses demands from a therapist a very cautious and well-reasoned position, he should not impose the patient conversations about God or persuade him to go to church and become a Christian. Pushing someone to certain acts is a manipulation, which contradicts the Christian morals (Strawn & Brown, 2004). From Christian faith viewpoint psychotherapists have to work with believers and atheists on equal terms remembering all the commandments of Christ, which are applicable to any psychoanalytical process.
Another aspect of Christian faith tackles the issue of suicides, which frequently occur in difficult families. Therefore, Christian position in this aspect should be firm, explaining family members all the disastrous consequences of such an action. According to Christian faith approach suicide cannot be justified, the same concerns euthanasia (Saunders, 1994). If a family appears to be in a difficult situation, Christianity demands to show the strength of spirit and humility of mind. Family counselling in Christian faith is based on functional division of roles between a priest and a psychotherapist, helping the family to cope with the existing stress. There are also numerous examples of Christian consulting usage in psychoanalytical practice with patients having various disorders. For instance, church takes an active participation in rehabilitation process of drug addicts and alcoholics (Myers, 2000).
Christianity believes that a psychoanalytic counselling a certain family is carrying out a meticulous work transforming the egocentric world of a sufferer into the God-centered world (Myers, 2000). The task of a psychoanalyst guided by Christian faith is to explain to families that any suffering is remelting into meaning becoming a significant personal experience. Christian approach lay an emphasis on spiritual dimension of a personality. Psychopathology is regarded as phenomenology of spiritual experience, analyzing psychopathological conditions within a family. Phenomenology of depressions, fear, anxiety is not infrequently associated with perception of own sinfulness, godforsakenness, grieve on God’s deprivation and impossibility of finding of the true path to God (Jones, 1991). Working with families on principles of Christian faith psychoanalysts have to explain that depressive feelings open a possibility to rescue souls through accepting Christ by faith. Transformation of grieve and fear to faith is a path to convalescence, spiritual and mental rescue, which becomes a serious therapeutic and psychoanalytical target for family counselling (Jones, 1991).
Christian approach uses unique possibility of group and individual psychoanalytical work taking place in church with active participation of a priest. I believe that prayer and faith could be fully integrated into psychoanalytical family therapies. Some psychoanalysts and psychologists successfully applied prayers in practice during the psychoanalytical family counselling. While effectiveness of Christian approach proved to be high, many clinics started to use integration therapeutic counselling concept based on bible anthropology (Jones, 1991). Psychoanalytical practice nowadays acquired a broad variety of instruments for family counselling through Christian faith dimension.
I consider that dialogical nature of communication with God in the form of prayers is based on certain presuppositions, affecting all members of the family. Christianity gives ground to speak openly of such issues as mental and spiritual balance in the family, the role of priest and psychoanalyst for family counselling, sin and fault as theological and psychological concepts perceived by the patients, etc. Participation of priests, psychologists and other experts in psychoanalytical work with families contributes to the better understanding of Christianity and psychology integration. Christian faith and psychoanalyses treat mind and soul in different ways but pursue the same goal – curing of an individual, to make him able find peace with himself and in this way, peace with the family.
Psychoanalytic approaches to family counseling are manifold and include issues of marriage relations, child-parent relations, diagnostics and correction of family relations. Family being an object of scientific research integrate numerous approaches dealing with psychology, demography, ethnography, economy, etc. Integration of these approaches allows getting a complete representation of the family as a social phenomenon combining characteristics of a social institute and a small specific group. Psychoanalyses of family relations concentrate attention on research of interpersonal interdependencies in family (its stability and steadiness). Knowledge about these dependencies allows providing practical work with families, diagnosing and helping to rebuild family relations. Major parameters of interpersonal relations include status and role differences, psychological distance, valence of relations, dynamism, stability and others. Family as a social institute has its own tendencies of development. Therefore, psychoanalytical approaches have to be flexible allowing to respond on any family difficulties. Beyond any doubt Christian moral norms can become fundamental bases of psychological work with families. While professionals judge about people on their external manifestations, Christian faith judge about people on their internal moral choice. Cherishing inside the families Christian virtues may become a fertile ground for one's soul healing and establishing of productive friendly relations between the family members, which is the major task of family counselling making a family function as a single whole.
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