Systemic Therapy

Strategic and Systemic (Milan) family therapy all tend to focus on systemic or circular views of problems when looking at relationships and change. All also tend to explore creative and strategic interventions in order to bypass different forms of resistance with the intent to do so quickly.

Focus of Therapy

Strategic family therapy tends to be more focused on behaviour change in family systems rather than understanding the change. Strategic theory was also strongly impacted by the both Jay Haley and Milton Erickson who developed strategic formulations which are routinely used within Strategic family therapy. The general belief within Strategic family therapy is that people have the resources to change quickly once therapists get the process of change started.


One of the common concepts within Strategic theory is the positive feedback loop, which identifies the idea that many families encounter difficulties over the course of their lives, but the determination of whether it becomes a problem. All depends on how well those family members ultimately respond to the issue. Another technique is Reframing, which is changing the interpretation of the behaviour to an alternative but plausible interpretation.

Some of the systemic approaches tend to follow the pattern firstly identifying the patterns feedback loops and issues that surround the problem, then find and understand the rules of these systems and finally, find a way to change those loops or rules get better behaviour changes, and more positive outcomes.

Interestingly, it is common for families to make what appears to be common sense, but misguided attempts when trying to solve their difficulties, which tends to cause situations to get worse. This commonly leads them to reapply the same old attempted solution causing more difficulties.

Insight Psychological has therapists who deal in Systemic therapy in our Edmonton & Calgary locations.