The Family Crucible: a Systemic Approach

1299 words 6 pages
The Brice Family: A systemic approach
Juli Baines
January 9, 2013
Jenny Brenn, MFT, LCADC

The Brice Family: A systemic approach
The Family Crucible, written by Augustus Napier and Carl Whitaker (1978), exemplifies a fragmented family system. The family consists of David a VIP lawyer, Carolyn an angry mother, Claudia an enraged teenager, Don the 11-year-old peacemaker, and six-year-old Laura. Co-therapists, Napier and Whitaker have taken on the task of working with the family using a systemic approach to conceptualize the family’s difficulties. Herein, this writer will describe how Whitaker and Napier depict the family struggles, how these struggles relate to the family unit in deference to an individual focus, and how
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78). The emotional divorce tone was also identified between Carolyn and David with the acknowledgement of the affair with work for David and the affair with the mother for Carolyn (p. 18). Whitaker conceptualized the affairs as a result of a fearfulness of dependency for the couple and the feelings of entrapment related to the old family of origin.
Divergence of Individual and System Concepts
There are several differences between the individual approach to therapy and the systemic approach to therapy. According to Bitter (2009), there are some similarities too, but it is the differences that set the orientation of the helper toward those who are served. Whitaker and Napier employed the systemic approach when working with the Brice family. Table 1:1 presents the differences between the two approaches in relation to The Family Crucible (Napier & Whitaker, 1978).
Table 1:1 Divergence of individual and systemic concepts

Individual (Claudia) Systemic (Brice Family) Focus is on the development of the individual’s self, coping responses, and problem solving. The identified patient is the focus. | Focus is on the transactions, sequences of interaction, interdependence, recursion, and mutual influence. | People are in isolation from the systems in which they live. | It is about the process, how a problem affects the family and how the


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