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The Second Family

A Teen's Peer Group Is a Rich Resource for Family Therapists

May/June 1996
When family therapist Ron Taffel wrote this article in 1996, an explosive upsurge of youth pop culture called into question the very idea that parents must reestablish firm authority over teens. With the advent of smartphones and instant, constant access to peers, this cornerstone of family systems theory has crumbled even further. The central question Taffel asks is even more urgent now: if pop culture reigns, and teens are firmly embedded in a peer-driven “second family,” what role, if any, can parents play in providing guidance to troubled adolescents?
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Focusing Your Wide Angle Lens

The Intersection of the Family and the Social Landscape

November/December 1995
When I was a young and enthusiastic family therapist, I thought that there was one key to understanding the truth about a family and I had it. I was wrong.

Ghosts in the Therapy Room

The Systematic Impact of Family Secrets

May/June 1993
When I was trained as a family therapist in the early 1970s, nobody taught me much about secrets, beyond a handful of caveats. But secrets can grow like weeds through the generations, sending unexpected tendrils into every corner of a family's life. They shape not only relationships, but inner lives.

The Silent Tyranny

Secrets Often Oppress Those They Were Meant to Protect

May/June 1993
When I was 46, I developed an obsessive need to delve into the memories of my grandmother's past. Like a grave robber, I began to search compulsively for answers to questions I couldn't yet form. I didn't know what I sought—I only knew that I felt compelled to learn about my family's genealogy. I didn't yet realize that one secret buries another.

Family Therapy's Neglected Prophet

Murray Bowen knew that personal freedom never comes cheaply

March/April 1991
Murray Bowen had always been something of a loner, never in the mainstream of pragmatic, problem-oriented family therapy practitioners. Since the earliest days of his career, he had considered family therapy a by-product of the vast new theory of human behavior that he believed it was his real mission to develop. Toward the end of his life, he had denounced family therapy for its intellectual vacuity, and dismissed it as an "evolutionary misadventure" doomed to extinction.

What Price Camelot?

Modern Day Myths of Infidelity

May/June 1989
What is infidelity? This question of just what is an infidelity, and what isn't, is a surprisingly touchy one, as I discover each time I talk to either professional or nonprofessional audiences. I try to define infidelity, and describe it as best I can, and somebody will invariably come up to me anxiously and sheepishly and tell me about some experience, and ask for reassurance that this act was not an infidelity.

Marriage at the Turning Point

The Affair as Crisis and Opportunity

May/June 1989
Back in the 1950s, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Hollywood's perfect young couple, shocked their fan-magazine public by divorcing after Fisher's scandalous affair with Elizabeth Taylor. In those innocent times, lots of people, myself included, took this spectacle very seriously.

Getting the Message

Five Classic Patterns of Infidelity

May/June 1989
Craig Johnson had only slept with Karen three times before his wife discovered he was having an affair. He doesn't think much about Karen any more, but his wife Ruth will never forget her.

Reaching Out to Life: An Interview with Virginia Satir

The Healing Touch of Virginia Satir

January/February 1989
Being larger than life was something Virginia Satir knew about from her earliest days. She grew up bigger and smarter and more keenly aware than any of the kids her age in the Wisconsin farm community where she was raised. By the time she was three, she'd learned to read. By the time she was 11, she'd reached her adult height of nearly six feet.

Cloe Madanes

Behind the One-Way Kaleidoscope

September/October 1986
At the Family Therapy Institute of Washington, DC they don't believe self-knowledge fires the engine of change and insist instead that therapy is really just a process of persuasion. Here, therapy is about metaphor and boldly sweeping clients along in unexpected directions. In fact, a visitor might wonder what on earth the institute's clients tell their friends about the things they're asked to do in the name of "therapy."
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