Recognizing Maladaptive Structural Patterns in Families

CE Hours: 4.0
Instructor: C. Wayne Jones, PhD

Cost: This training is free but open only to supervisors and behavioral health professionals working in agencies contracted with CFBT

A Live, Interactive Webconference
Wednesday, 6/8/22, via Live Interactive Zoom
Thursday, 6/9/22, via Live Interactive Zoom
Friday, 6/10/22, via Live Interactive Zoom

In systemic therapies, a major focus of assessment when treating children and adolescents with severe emotional and behavioral problems is the relational context of the family. The link between family functioning and the course of child problems is well-established in the empirical literature. While there are numerous available questionnaires and rating scales for assessing family relationships, this workshop focuses primarily on informal direct clinical observation of family interactions. This training introduces a conceptual framework for describing dimensions of family structure that was originally developed by Minuchin and which still informs family assessment in several evidence-based family therapy models (e.g., ABFT, MDFT, and BSFT), as well as the promising practice, eco-systemic structural family therapy. The structural concepts introduced and described in this workshop are subsystem boundaries, hierarchy and power, and closeness distance.

An overarching goal of this training is to help therapists working in intensive, in-home treatment programs to recognize structural patterns organizing parent-child relationships which have been linked to exacerbation of child problems in the empirical literature. These broad patterns include enmeshment, under organization, and coercive/authoritarian parenting. A typology is introduced as an informal heuristic clinical tool for facilitating observations of family interactional patterns. Throughout the training, videotape examples are utilized to help participants identify and differentiate these different patterns. Implications for family treatment direction is provided for each of the three maladaptive structural patterns described in the training.


As a result of attending this training, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain the nature of family structure
  2. Identify three maladaptive family structures linked to SED in children and adolescence.
  3. Describe interactional patterns that distinguish each maladaptive family structure
  4. Describe how family structure can be used to organize treatment

8:30am-12:30pm: Objectives 1-4

This is an intermediate level course. The target audience is behavioral health professionals working within North Carolina’s Intensive In-Home Program. This is a live synchronous distance learning activity conducted in real time, allowing for simultaneous participation of participants and instructors from different locations.

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