Counselling techniques that can help families regain control and causes of families breaking up are among the topics explored in this ethnographic account of therapeutic sessions. Two very different views of what a family is and how it becomes `out of control' emerge, resulting in vastly different therapeutic approaches.
Gubrium compares two family counselling facilities - a community outpatient centre and a private family-focused psychiatric hospital - which have radically different concepts of the family. One setting examines a family's system including hidden structures, power relations, language and interaction as clues to the family's dysfunction. The other is concerned with affective relationships and deep emotions, hoping to use these bonds to connect members of troubled families.
Jaber F. Gubrium is professor and chair of sociology at the University of Missouri. He has an extensive record of research on the social organization of care in human service institutions. His publications include numerous books and articles on aging, family, the life course, medicalization, and representational practice in therapeutic context.