Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Family psychotherapy, Family social work, Psychotherapist and patient, Parents-Psychology, Blame, Narcissism, Family therapy, Parental narcissism, Resistance (Psychoanalysis), Blaming, Parents in therapy


This research was designed to address the question: "How do family therapists respond to monopolizing, blaming, critical and unempathic behavior from parents in family therapy. I was interested to see if they viewed the presentation as resistance, narcissism, or was it attributed to something else? I was also interested in the therapist's background, theoretical framework, training, and how they viewed family interventions. I hypothesized that family therapists would respond to monopolizing, blaming, critical and unempathic behavior in parents in a way that was influenced more by clinical practice experience than theoretical orientation. The instrument was a survey with closed and open-ended questions developed by the researcher. Nineteen clinicians that met my criteria for being a family therapist completed the survey. Nearly half (44%) of the clinicians had more than twenty years of family therapy experience. A significant finding was that family clinicians were influenced by several theories, but tended to adhere most to one particular theoretical framework. There was a significant difference in mean age (t(8)=3.326, p=.01), between those who viewed this behavior as narcissism (m=44.5) and those that did not (m=59.5). Clinicians that avoided labeling this behavior were older, more experienced and possibly "truer" family therapists. There was also a plethora of creative approaches found that diverted from theory. The study revealed the decrease in family therapy training in current social work programs and a cautionary statement of letting H.M.O's "cost-effective" goals affect family therapy education, training, and research in social work schools.




iii, 85 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 73-75)