The family therapy of adolescent drug abuse: Family members describe their experience
Kuehl, Bruce P
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The reciprocal exchange of information between a therapist and his/her client(s) is considered an essential component of systemic therapy. Yet, while feedback is often considered part of the practice of therapy as it happens in the therapy room, the generation of feedback from clients using a specific research methodology has virtually been ignored. This study describes clients' perceptions of the family therapy experience which emerged from interviews conducted with 39 individuals from 12 families. These interviews were conducted and analyzed using an ethnographic research methodology. Eighteen primary topics of discussion emerged from the interviews which are discussed as important sources of feedback for therapists. One of the primary topics of discussion which emerged was the informants' descriptions of (I) stages of the counseling process. These stages included (a) the introductory meeting, (b) assessment, (c) getting down to basics, (d) putting suggestions into practice, (e) sharing successes with the counselor, and (f) troubleshooting and follow-up. Other topics of discussion included (2) why the family members decided to go to counseling, (3) the clients' expectations of counseling, (4) the physical setting, (5) filling out the forms, (6) experienced people to ask for help with a drug problem, (7) different kinds of counseling, (8) the counselor, (9) the group behind the mirror, (10) the use of questions in counseling, (11) being a parent in counseling, (12) being an adolescent in counseling, (13) being an adolescent's sibling in counseling, (14) what happens between meetings, (15) wasting time in meetings, (16) the adolescent doing drugs with friends, (17) television as a source of information, and (18) clients' suggestions to counselors and families. The results of this study suggest that while some families completed all of the stages of the counseling process, others did not. Furthermore, some families which did not complete all of the stages of the counseling process were dissatisfied with their experience. These results are discussed in terms of the unrecognized ambiguity which occurs in therapy, the importance of the client's perception of the therapist as both caring and competent, and the therapist's use of theory. Suggestions for further research are given. This study is contextualized using radical constructivist and postmodern ideas.