Like all complex living systems, a family, during its life course, proceeds through predictable stages of development. Yet every family is different, its uniqueness defined and continually redefined by an open-ended array of structural, biological, and sociocultural variables. And, as with all living things, a family's continued well-being depends upon its ability to adapt to changes arising from both within the family system and without. First postulated in the 1940s, these basic ideas constitute the conceptual core of modern family development theory. From them has blossomed an impressive body of knowledge about family health and illness, without which much of the progress occurring in family therapy over the past half-century would not have been possible. This book does much to promote continued progress in the practical application of family development theory by affording family therapists an unparalleled opportunity to acquaint themselves with the most important trends in family development theory to emerge over the past decade.
In it you will find contributions from leading theorists, researchers, and clinicians, arranged so as to provide a systematic treatment of the latest thinking on family development seen from both the systemic viewpoint and that of individual members of the system. Comprehensive in scope, this book explores the patterns, processes, and dynamics inherent in "traditional" families, as well as in important structural variants - such as single-parent and gay and lesbian families - and families with special needs and problems, including divorce, physical abuse, and disabilities. Since progress in the social sciences is as much about formulating viable new ways of seeing as it is about determining quantifiable facts, the editors offer equal time to an array of influential and sometimes radically conflicting schools of thought, including sociobiology, social psychology, constructionism, multiculturalism, postmodernism, and feminism. Mainstream family therapists will find much in this handbook that they will consider controversial. In some cases readers may even be outraged by the views expressed.
Yet, thanks to the high caliber of scholarship, intellect, and professionalism evidenced throughout, none of the ideas advanced in Handbook of Family Development and Intervention can be easily dismissed, and all have something of value to offer the thoughtful, dedicated family therapist. Handbook of Family Development and Intervention is a valuable professional resource for all couples and family therapists. It is also must reading for graduate students in family psychology, family therapy, social work, and counseling. "In this magnificent volume, the editors make a major contribution that integrates individual and family development concepts and therapeutic applications by bringing together scholarly yet fresh contributions. The inclusion of various family forms and of families with special needs makes this volume especially relevant to the treatment of contemporary families as we enter the new millennium. This superb Handbook should be mandatory reading and an excellent reference for teachers, researchers, and therapists at all levels of development." Celia J. Falicov, PhD President, 1999-2001 American Family Therapy Academy
WILLIAM C. NICHOLS, EdD, is President of the International Family Therapy Association and author of several books on family psychology. MARY ANNE PACE-NICHOLS, PhD, is a veteran human development and family development teacher and consultant. DOROTHY S. BECVAR, PhD, is the author of five books on various aspects of family development and intervention. AUGUSTUS Y. NAPIER, PhD, is an acclaimed family therapist and coauthor of the classic The Family Crucible.