Secrets in Families and Family Therapy


SKU: 9780393701470 Category: Tag:


Secret-keeping is a seemingly unavoidable part of human interaction, from governments to married couples. Unlike privacy, which in the West is considered a healthy characteristic of the autonomous adult, secrets are often troublesome, creating distorted perceptions and strained relationships. Secrets, moreover, are complex. They differ in significance (a surprise party versus hidden incest), in the ways they shape family relationships (who knows what about whom), in their location (between family members or between the family and society), and in their effects on individual functioning (Does the secret affect only one relationship or the overall way the individual responds to others?). Because of this complexity, secrets are resistant to simple “rules”: Therapy must comprise more than opening up the secret or addressing only the context and not the content or vice versa. Therapists are confronted with the difficult task of examining their own values regarding secrecy while, at the same time, providing an effective therapeutic environment. Practical issues of individual safety, the meaning of the secret for the family, the therapist’s attitude towards secrets in general and the family’s secret in particular – all must be considered in order for treatment to be effective.
Here, Imber-Black and her contributors offer a vast array of approaches to helping families deal with secrets involving sexuality, race, violence, parentage, substance abuse, illness, and death. The contributors explore the therapeutic, social, and political issues of secrets, while always keeping families firmly in mind. Through the many case examples, they show us how families, at first constricted by the need to maintain secrecy, can gain strength through greater openness.
Part I sets the stage by defining secrets and their often shame-bound origins. Part II examines secrets throughout the family life cycle: in couples, between parents and children, and with loss. Part III shows how addictions such as drug abuse and eating disorders are often symptoms of unhealthy secrets.
In Part IV, secrets of violence and abuse are discussed. Part V offers a comprehensive look at social secrets involving sexism, heterosexism, and taboos. Part VI discusses two very charged topics: secret-keeping involving race and racism and with AIDS.
Part VII concludes the book by offering a pattern for teaching and handling secrets in therapist training.
This diverse cast of talented therapists provides an elastic model for treating family secrets, while compelling us to reevaluate our own thinking about secrets.

Additional information

Weight 31.21 oz



There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Secrets in Families and Family Therapy”