Nichols, P., Schwartz, R. (2006). Family Therapy — Concepts and Methods (7th Edition). USA: Pearson Education Inc. 497 pages. ISBN: 0-205-47809-3

In this volume Mike Nichols and Dick Schwartz tell the story of family therapy — and tell it very well. It’s hard to imagine a more readable and informative guide to the field.

So states noted family therapist Dr. Salvador Minuchin in the opening paragraph of his foreword to this book.

The authors state that this seventh edition has a number of changes to bring the theoretical information right up to date and also has an increased emphasis on practical issues with more case studies. They have studied a number of leading practitioners, visiting them and sitting in on actual sessions.

Part One starts with the foundations and evolution of family therapy and introduces some of its more notable practitioners, including Palo Alto, Murray Bowen, Carl Whittaker and Minuchin. The work of these and other family therapists is covered in greater detail in later chapters of the book.

The last two chapters in Part One deal with the early models and basic techniques of family therapy, looking at group process and communications analysis and the fundamental concepts such as systems theory, social constructionism and attachment theory.

Part Two concentrates on the classic schools of family therapy and AIPC Diploma graduates will be familiar with some of the theories discussed. The chapters on Bowenian family systems therapy, strategic, structured and experiential therapies and psychodynamic and cognitive behaviour family therapy will provide both student and practising counsellors with a wealth of further information on these topics together with easy to read case studies giving a practical demonstration of specific therapeutic strategies.

Part Three starts by looking at family therapy in the 21st century and its application to multicultural, single parent and gay and lesbian families, continuing with a chapter each on solution focused therapy, narrative therapy and integrative models.

Part Four evaluates family therapy through comparative analysis and research, looking at how this approach might be used for a range of issues including depression, substance abuse, schizophrenia and eating disorders.

Each chapter of the book ends with a useful concise summary, a list of recommended further readings and a comprehensive reference list. The volume concludes with an excellent glossary and name and subject index.

The authors write in an accessible and readable style and the layout makes it easy to dip into and to find particular topics.

For anyone preparing to work with families, the book would provide a sound introduction to the wide range of issues and the variety of techniques applicable to this form of therapy. Following the recommended reading list and seeking out the referenced works would greatly increase the knowledge and expertise gained.