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contextual therapy

(contextual family therapy, contextual psychotherapy)

Contextual therapy is a nondirective form of therapy that, through promotion of mutual understanding and trust, fosters a dialogue between family members and, hence, makes change possible. This school of therapy was founded by Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy in an attempt to integrate the findings of psychoanalysis, existential philosophy, systems theory, and ethics. His central thesis is that disturbances in individuals and families are an expression and consequence of an imbalance in giving and taking, entitlement and fulfillment, particularly in the realm of caring. Contextual therapy tries to balance the given ledger of merits and demerits by establishing a sense of mutual responsibility. The therapeutic dimension attempts to do justice not only to the external facts but also to the psychology of the individual, the patterns of transaction, and, above all, the integrity of the interpersonal relationships.


Definition extracted with permission from Simon, Fritz, et al, Family Process, Inc.: Language of Family Therapy: A Systemic Vocabulary and Source Book (Family Process Press Series)