Analysis and Reflection: The Process of Change
Peggy Papp (1983), author of The Process of Change, argues forcefully that in family and marital therapy, it is inappropriate to separate theory from practice and vice versa. Integral to the delivery of potentially effective therapeutic interventions is the realization that behavior and attitudes are shaped by a variety of factors, many of which can be understood both theoretically and practically. Consequently, the effective therapist and therapy will move from a sound grounding in theory to practice using tools and techniques that have proven effective. This report will consider some of the central themes advanced by Papp (1983) and offer a personal reaction to these themes.
Papp (1983) positions the family or the married couple as a system, making full use of System Theory as a basic framework for therapeutic interventions. She also addresses the question of how change occurs in established systems and how resistance to change is a common problem encountered in the therapeutic milieu. Much of the text incorporates case vignettes to illustrate central theses advanced by Papp (1983) and other authors who contribute to the text.
Papp (1983) contends that the systems approach to therapy depends in large measure on the ability of the therapist to adopt and maintain a particular attitude toward change and to use that attitude therapeutically. If the family is seen as a self-regulating system and the symptoms it presents as a mechanism for regulation, and then the symptom is eliminated, the system enters into a period of no regulation; it is here that Papp (1983) says that the therapist must assist clients in developing appropriate strategies for maintaining a position regulatory framework.
In the context of therapy, this is achieved through a variety of interventions that must be tailored to meet the unique needs of each client system. Papp (1983) distinguishes between...