Within the systems approach, there are three different ways problems are approached, namely, the strategic approach, the structural approach and the systemic approach. The strategic family therapist addresses problems in light of uncertain and inconsistent hierarchies within the family system (Watson n.d., p.381). He/she elicits "power and control issues, and directs change by means of family assignments or paradoxical injunctions" (Haley 1976, Madanes 1981, cited in Watson n.d., p.381). A structural family therapist looks into family structure, subsystems, and boundaries with an ideal family structure in mind and tries to reorganize the boundaries of families. The systemic approach has its origin in the work of the Milan therapy team inspired by Mara Selvini Palazzoli along with L.Boscolo, G. Cecchin and G. Prata (Wright & Watson 1991, p.407). Systemic therapy involves conceptualization of family problems from a systemic perspective, which plays an important role in the treatment process.
Systemic therapists offer information and advice that liberate the family and enable them to solve their own problems. A systemic opinion is "offered by conceptualizing the presenting symptom as a solution to some other hypothetical or implied problem that would or could occur should the symptom not be present" (Tomm, cited in Wright & Watson 1991, p.427). This is called reframing. ...
They offer different and contradicting views of reality, referred to as split opinions, which enable the family to be more open to change (Wright & Watson 1991, p.428). Therapists require the family to follow a pattern of behavior that is different from what it is used to. This is referred to as a ritual. Rituals help families to make new connections which in turn help them find new realities, leading to change and resolution of issues.
The reflecting team
In systemic family therapy, a reflecting team consisting of consultants or co-therapists from different fields helps the family in finding its own solution. The family is invited to sit behind a one-way mirror and observe the team's discussion on a previously held conversation between the family and the therapist. The team's voicing out aloud about the family's problems and possible solutions directs the family to consider alternate views of the family situation, problems and possible solutions.
Andersen has suggested several assumptions and working guidelines for the reflecting team (cited in Jenkins 1996, p.1). A reflecting team follows the assumption that information needs to shared and not withheld, and based on this, the team can share its thoughts with the family during discussions. When there are multiple ideas discussed, there are different perceptions of reality, and the family's perception of its situation is also enriched on hearing these differences. Consequently, the family gets an opportunity to view its problems and possible solutions from alternate perspectives. These enriched pictures of the family and its dilemma form "an ecology of ideas" (Bogdan, cited in Jenkins 1996, p.1). Listening to the multitude of ideas and opinions of the reflecting team members helps the clients