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J Marital Fam Ther. 2018 May 21. doi: 10.1111/jmft.12337. [Epub ahead of print]

Expanding Systems Thinking: Incorporating Tools from Medical Sociology into MFT Education and Research.

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University of Connecticut.


The field of marriage and family therapy has historically focused on dynamics within family systems, and at times the role of social and cultural factors external to the family. To date, however, little scholarship has examined how therapists themselves are embedded within a mental healthcare system. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how structural components of the mental healthcare system shape the practice of therapy. We draw from the field of medical sociology to illustrate how three dominant structures-managed care, diagnosis, and evidence-based models-are intertwining and mutually reinforcing systems that have significant and long-term implications for systemic therapists and researchers. We recommend incorporating a sociological understanding of such structures into MFT education and research.


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