Transgenerational Approach to Family Therapy

Transgenerational Approach to Family Therapy


TransgenerationalApproach to Family Therapy


TransgenerationalApproach to Family Therapy

Thereare several different transgenerational models of family therapy inuse today. Although the models are may be different in some aspects,they all have common goals and share a lot in common. Among thesimilarities between these models is that they all retain value forhistorical information, have belief that the past has on the presentas well as the future, and endeavor to make more accomplishmentrather than just curing symptoms. The approaches come systematicallyin a way that they hypothesize emotional pain as rising frominteractional, human systems, most primarily the family of origin.Analysis conducted within transgenerational family therapy modelsfocus on the families of origin and transgenerational dynamics as thecentral units of focus.

Thereare four main elements entailed in transgenerational family theory,that is, thetime frame of presenting problems, the concept ofself-differentiation, family patterns, and the emotional triangles.The presenting problem lies within the present and the past. Familyrelational patterns are also important over the years and have a bigrole in someone’s life. The relational patterns have a stronginfluence on people to an extent that noticing them is very vital.People who notice such relational patterns become differentiated.Differentiated people have been defined as those who are emotionallystable as not to have automatic reactions or responses to emotionalpressure. The sources of emotional pressure could internal orexternal.

Whenundergoing therapy, the concept of differentiation of self has a lotof meaning. Therapists base on this differentiation of self toevaluate the capability one has of preserving a strong sense ofself-identity while they maintain the natural attachment they have totheir family system. According to Bowen in his initial work, the termdifferentiation of self was used meant to be synonymous with maturityas opposed to autonomy as many researchers assume.

Thegoal of a transgenerational school is simply to teach and train thehuman mind how to control emotional reactivity. The control is meantto give a person power over their behavior during emotional pressure.Rather than giving in to compulsions, sexual or aggressive impulses,instincts, and fears, one takes time to think about how they want toreact before doing so.

Theconcept of emotional triangles embodies a three-person relationshipstructure that is considered to be a vital component of a much biggeremotional system. The emotional triangle results when twoindividuals are involved in a disagreement to which they cannot finda solution, and so resolve to seek the counsel of a third party. Itis believed that individuals that are in a position of seeinginterlocking triangles within their family system have the power toresolve past feelings. The level of differentiation of self that onehas already attained plays a big role in one’s ability to see theemotional triangle within their family.

Thepurpose of any therapist in charge of helping a family withtransgenerational issues must aim at helping members of the family toachieve self-differentiation and de-triangulation. It is only afterall members, or a majority of the members are self-differentiated andde-trianglized that past issues can be successfully resolved. Thefamily members must also understand their families or origin.Genogram is a technique that Bowen used to resolve familial problems.The Genogram is a form of family map that goes backwards to the thirdor fourth generation into discovering the emotional dynamics of afamily.


Ruiz,M. (n.d).Transgenerationaland Structural Family Therapy, an Analysis of Both Schools. Accessed5/9/15 from: