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MCFT-003: Counselling and Family Therapy: Basic Concepts & Theoretical Perspectives

MCFT-003: Counselling and Family Therapy: Basic Concepts & Theoretical Perspectives

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2023-24

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Assignment Code: MCFT-003/TMA-3/ ASST-3/2023-24

Course Code: MCFT-003

Assignment Name: Counselling and Family Therapy: Basic Concepts and Theoretical Perspectives

Year: 2023-24

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

Note:- (i) Answer all the questions in both sections.

(ii) Answers to questions of Section “A” should not exceed 300 words each.

Section A - Descriptive Questions

Q1) Discuss the characteristics for group leadership.

Ans) Assuming the role of a group counsellor entails becoming the group leader, and this leadership role is significantly influenced by one's personality.

Corey identified several characteristics that play a crucial role in shaping effective group leadership:

  1. Emotional Presence: A group leader should be emotionally present, demonstrating genuine caring and a willingness to engage with the emotional experiences of group members. This involves being moved by both the joys and pains shared within the group.

  2. Personal Power: Effective group leaders possess personal power, which involves self-confidence and an awareness of their influence on others. It is not about dominating or bullying but leveraging influence to encourage others to recognize and utilize their own power.

  3. Courage: Group leaders need to exhibit courage in their interactions, being authentic and vulnerable at times. This means being a 'real' person, admitting mistakes, acting on intuition, and embracing vulnerability.

  4. Willingness to Confront Oneself: Leaders must confront themselves, asking challenging questions about their motivations for being a group leader, their behaviour in groups, and the needs being served by assuming this role. This introspection fosters honesty about their motivations.

  5. Sincerity and Authenticity: Group leaders should genuinely care about the well-being and growth of others. They must be honest and direct, encouraging group members to explore aspects of their lives that they may be denying. A sincere group leader is authentic, standing firm and openly sharing feelings.

  6. Sense of Identity: A clear sense of identity is crucial for a group leader to assist members in their self-discovery process.

  7. Belief in Group Process and Enthusiasm: Effective leaders have a firm belief in the group process, seeing it as integral to the group's success. They approach their role with enthusiasm, demonstrating a conviction to bring about positive change.

Q2) Analyse issues involved in conducting systemic family therapy sessions.

Ans) In conducting family therapy sessions, several special issues, particularly regarding confidentiality and ethical considerations, need careful attention.

Confidentiality Issues with Couples and Families:

Maintaining confidentiality is paramount. Therapists must not disclose family information or identity without explicit consent. All records, including notes and recordings, should be securely stored, and access should be restricted to authorized personnel. If using family work in publications or presentations, consent must be obtained, and efforts made to conceal identities by altering details.

When working with couples or various family constellations, agreements should be made about sharing or withholding information, especially if one member attends a session alone. Responsibility for communicating within the family should be established, minimizing the therapist's involvement.

Ethical Issues in Working with Children:

It is unethical for therapists to reveal confidential information without permission, especially when dealing with children. Permission from parents or guardians should be sought for any communication, such as with teachers. Ground rules for confidentiality should be discussed in the first session, respecting adolescents' requests for increased confidentiality while being cautious in life-threatening or dangerous situations.

Creating a Safe and Respectful Environment for Talking:

Therapists should create a safe environment that respects the family's struggles and acknowledges their capacity for healing. A child-centred approach is recommended, recognizing that children may engage in play during sessions. Language should be tailored to children's understanding. Respect for the family's rules of addressing each other is essential, particularly in cross-cultural settings.

Q3) Explain, giving an example, the family mapping technique.

Ans) The family mapping technique is a therapeutic approach that involves creating visual representations of family structures, relationships, and dynamics. It is a valuable tool in family therapy to help members explore and understand their roles, connections, and the overall functioning of the family unit.

Process of Family Mapping:

  1. Introduction: The therapist introduces the concept of family mapping and its purpose, emphasizing that it is a collaborative and non-judgmental exercise.

  2. Instructions: Family members are asked to draw a map representing the family system. The map can include individuals, relationships, and significant events.

  3. Symbols and Labels: Different symbols and labels are used to represent various family members and their roles. Lines connecting individuals indicate relationships, and symbols may denote the nature of these connections (e.g., solid line for a close relationship, dotted line for a strained relationship).

  4. Discussion: The therapist helps the family discuss their maps. Individual placement, relationships, and symbol feeling may be asked.


Consider a family consisting of parents (John and Mary), two teenage children (Alex and Sarah), and a grandparent (Eleanor). The family has recently experienced tension due to communication breakdowns.

In the family mapping session:

  1. Symbols: John represents each family member with circles. Solid lines connect family members with positive relationships, while dashed lines represent strained connections.

  2. Placement: Alex places himself closer to John, indicating a strong bond. However, Sarah places herself farther away, reflecting recent conflicts.

  3. Lines and Symbols: John and Mary use solid lines between themselves, highlighting a strong marital bond. However, the line connecting John and Sarah is dashed, indicating tension.

  4. Discussion: The talk shows that John and Sarah's recent problems are harming the family. The family can visualise these interactions through mapping.

Q4) Discuss principles of solution focused family therapy.

Ans) Solution-Focused Family Therapy (SFFT) operates on several key principles that guide the therapeutic process and promote positive change within the family unit.

  1. Client Resources and Strengths: SFFT operates on the belief that clients possess internal resources and strengths to address and resolve their problems. The therapist's role is to identify these abilities and assist clients in utilizing them effectively.

  2. Emphasis on Change: Change is considered a constant in life. Therapists in SFFT work to influence clients' perceptions about the inevitability of change, emphasizing the potential for positive transformations during therapy sessions.

  3. Identifying and Amplifying Change: Therapists focus on recognizing and amplifying moments of change. Through strategic questioning and attention to specific topics, therapists highlight what is already working well and work to enhance it. Positive changes in crucial areas can have a ripple effect throughout the entire system.

  4. Understanding the Complaint: Unlike traditional therapies that may delve extensively into the details of the complaint, SFFT suggests that a deep understanding of the problem's cause is not necessary. The focus is on understanding what clients are doing that is already working and learning from them what is different when the problem is less troublesome.

  5. No Need to Know the Cause: SFFT asserts that knowing the cause or function of a complaint is not necessary for resolution. Instead, the focus is on helping clients make small changes that can initiate larger positive effects within the system.

  6. Client-Defined Goals: Clients are empowered to define their own goals for treatment. Therapists do not assume that they know better than the clients about how they should live their lives.

  7. Rapid Change is Possible: SFFT is optimistic about the potential for rapid change. A productive and optimistic view gained in the first session can often lead clients to take actions that significantly improve their lives.

Q5) What is resistance in family therapy? Describe how you would handle such crisis.

Ans) Resistance in family therapy can be viewed as a maladaptive pattern of interaction preventing families from seeking treatment. This term, within the family-systems perspective, signifies the family's struggle to adapt effectively to their situation and collaborate in seeking help. From this standpoint, resistance is an indication of the family's inability to navigate their challenges cohesively.

To address resistance, the counsellor must recognize the influence of the most powerful person in the family, often the client or a noncooperative parent figure. Understanding why the family resists treatment is crucial. The concept of tracking becomes instrumental in reaching the powerful individual directly and negotiating a treatment contract that aligns with their agreement. Overcoming resistance, therefore, involves deciphering and modifying these interactional patterns within the family.

In multicultural counselling or psychotherapy, the literature emphasizes the importance of counsellors and psychotherapists acknowledging their biases, values, stereotypical beliefs, and assumptions. This self-awareness is crucial for effectively serving culturally diverse clients. By recognizing and understanding these personal factors, counsellors can provide more appropriate and culturally sensitive support to clients from diverse backgrounds. This approach aligns with the broader understanding that effective counselling requires a nuanced appreciation of cultural differences and a commitment to providing inclusive and respectful care.

Q6) Explain A-B-C-D-E analysis with the help of a case illustration.

Ans) The A-B-C-D-E analysis was applied to Yvonne, a thirty-year-old woman experiencing mood swings and depression following her divorce. Over approximately twenty sessions, the counsellor utilized this approach to help Yvonne understand and modify her maladaptive thought patterns.

  1. History and Intake: Yvonne, an intelligent woman with a master's degree in business, presented with depression related to thoughts of failure and guilt stemming from her divorce. The counsellor identified her as a suitable candidate for the A-B-C-D-E analysis due to her cognitive thinking errors, above-average intelligence, and willingness to engage in systematic assignments.

  2. Introduction of A-B-C-D-E Analysis: After intake and assessment, the counsellor proposed the A-B-C-D-E analysis to Yvonne, emphasizing its potential to address her thoughts of failure and self-blame, major contributors to her emotional distress.

  3. Identification of Emotional Distress: Yvonne recognized her divorce as the primary source of emotional distress. The counsellor helped her explore whether she had control over changing the external event, highlighting the potential for changing thoughts and feelings.

  4. Exploration of Emotional Consequences: Yvonne identified frustration and depression as her primary emotions. The counsellor encouraged her to decide whether to keep or change these feelings, considering their impact on her daily life, such as hindering involvement with other men.

  5. Working with Beliefs (Bs): The counsellor and Yvonne delved into her self-defeating beliefs, such as "I'm a failure" and "It's my fault the marriage didn't work out." These thoughts, common in depression, were targeted for dispute.

  6. Cognitive Disputation: Yvonne was guided to dispute her self-defeating thoughts through cognitive disputation. The counsellor introduced alternative, self-enhancing thoughts to counteract the depressive beliefs.

Imaginal and Behavioural Disputation: To enhance the effects of disputation, the counsellor incorporated imaginal and behavioural disputation methods, encouraging Yvonne to imagine alternative scenarios and engage in behaviours that challenged her depressive beliefs.

Section B - Short Answer Type Questions

Q1) Write short notes (in about 150 words each) on the following:

Q1. i) Genogram

Ans) A genogram is a visual representation of a family's structure, relationships, and medical history. Typically created in a standardized format, the genogram uses symbols and lines to depict generations, siblings, marriages, divorces, and various family dynamics. Squares represent males, circles represent females, and different lines indicate relationships such as marriages or parent-child connections.

Beyond illustrating basic family connections, genograms provide a space to include information about health issues, psychological dynamics, and significant life events. This tool is commonly used in family therapy, counselling, and medical settings to help professionals and families gain insights into patterns of behaviour, hereditary conditions, and the overall health of the family system. The genogram offers a comprehensive snapshot of a family's history, fostering a deeper understanding of its complexities and aiding in the development of targeted interventions or treatment plans.

Q1. ii) Principles for ethical commitment of counsellor/family therapist

Ans) Ethical commitment for counsellors and family therapists is grounded in principles that prioritize the well-being, autonomy, and confidentiality of clients.

  1. Autonomy and Respect: Upholding the client's right to self-determination and respecting their autonomy in decision-making.

  2. Beneficence: Actively promoting the welfare and best interests of the client, ensuring interventions contribute positively to their life.

  3. Non-maleficence: Avoiding harm and minimizing potential risks associated with therapeutic interventions.

  4. Justice and Fairness: Ensuring fair and equal treatment for all clients, regardless of individual differences, and addressing any biases.

  5. Confidentiality: Safeguarding client information and disclosing only when legally or ethically required, maintaining trust.

  6. Informed Consent: Providing clear information about the therapeutic process, potential risks, and benefits, allowing clients to make informed decisions.

  7. Cultural Competence: Recognizing and respecting diverse cultural backgrounds, actively working to understand and integrate cultural factors in therapy.

  8. Professional Competence: Maintaining ongoing professional development, staying informed about evidence-based practices, and acknowledging personal limitations.

Q1. iii) Socratic questioning

Ans) Socratic questioning is a method of inquiry and dialogue developed by the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. It involves a series of open-ended questions designed to stimulate critical thinking, self-reflection, and a deeper exploration of one's beliefs and assumptions. The primary goals of Socratic questioning are to uncover underlying thoughts, clarify concepts, and encourage individuals to arrive at their own conclusions.

The process typically begins with a broad, probing question and then proceeds with follow-up questions that challenge assumptions, seek evidence, and analyse reasoning. This method is widely employed in various fields, including education and counselling, to promote independent thinking and enhance problem-solving skills. Socratic questioning encourages individuals to examine the validity and implications of their ideas, fostering a deeper understanding of complex issues.

Q1. iv) C T

Ans) Cognitive therapy, also known as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), is a widely used therapeutic approach that addresses the interconnectedness of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Developed by Aaron T. Beck, cognitive therapy aims to help individuals identify and challenge negative thought patterns and irrational beliefs that contribute to emotional distress and problematic behaviour.

In cognitive therapy, clients work collaboratively with therapists to recognize distorted thinking, replace it with more balanced and realistic thoughts, and develop healthier coping strategies. The therapy is structured, goal-oriented, and time-limited, often focusing on specific issues or symptoms. By changing maladaptive thought processes, individuals can experience improvements in mood, behaviour, and overall well-being. Cognitive therapy is effective for various mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, and stress-related issues. Its practical and skills-based approach makes it a popular and evidence-based intervention in the field of psychotherapy.

Q1. v) Self psychology

Ans) Self psychology is a psychoanalytic theory developed by Heinz Kohut in the mid-20th century, focusing on the formation and maintenance of a healthy sense of self. Unlike traditional psychoanalysis, self psychology emphasizes the significance of self-objects—external elements that contribute to an individual's sense of self and well-being. According to Kohut, these self-objects, such as empathetic relationships, play a crucial role in the development of a cohesive self.

The theory posits that disruptions in the mirroring and idealizing functions of self-objects during childhood can lead to the formation of narcissistic vulnerabilities and disturbances in one's self-esteem. Self-psychology highlights the importance of empathetic understanding and validation in therapeutic interventions to repair and strengthen the individual's sense of self. It has influenced contemporary psychoanalytic thought, contributing to a more relational and empathetic approach in understanding and addressing psychological challenges.

Q1. vi) Strokes

Ans) In psychological terms, "strokes" refer to units of recognition or acknowledgment exchanged between individuals in social interactions. The concept was introduced by psychiatrist Eric Berne in transactional analysis, a theory of psychotherapy and personality.

Berne proposed that individuals have a fundamental psychological need for strokes, which are essentially affirmations or validations from others. Strokes can be positive (e.g., praise, support) or negative (e.g., criticism, disapproval), and individuals seek them to fulfil their emotional cravings for recognition and connection. The term is derived from the idea that positive strokes are as essential to mental health as physical touch, akin to a pat or stroke given for positive behaviour.

Transactional analysis helps people understand their stroke dynamics and improve their relationships by revealing their patterns of seeking and giving strokes. Transactional analysts study methods to improve communication, emotional well-being, and social connections.

Q1. vii) Reframing

Ans) Reframing is a cognitive technique employed in psychology and psychotherapy that involves changing the way an individual perceives, interprets, or frames a situation. This approach is rooted in the idea that altering the perspective or context of a particular experience can lead to a shift in its emotional impact and meaning.

In reframing, the focus is on transforming negative or unhelpful thought patterns into more positive and constructive ones. By encouraging individuals to view a situation from alternative angles, therapists aim to promote flexibility in thinking and enhance problem-solving abilities. For example, reframing a setback as an opportunity for learning and growth can empower individuals to approach challenges with resilience. Cognitive-behavioral therapy uses reframing to confront and modify harmful thinking. It promotes cognitive flexibility, adaptability, and optimism, helping people overcome life's problems.

Q1. viii) Myths about persons in a crisis state

Ans) Myths about individuals in a crisis state can perpetuate misconceptions and hinder effective support. One common myth is that people in crisis are always a danger to themselves or others. While some individuals may be at risk, many crisis situations involve emotional distress without imminent harm. Another myth is that those experiencing a crisis are solely seeking attention, dismissing the genuine emotional turmoil they may be facing.

There's also a myth that crisis situations necessarily involve mental illness.

In reality, major life upheavals or acute stressors can cause crises for anyone. The assumption that discussing the crisis will aggravate it is untrue; open communication typically fosters understanding and support. Additionally, presuming that crisis victims can address their issues alone ignores the complexity of emotional battles. Empathy, understanding, and professional support dispel these beliefs, making crisis response more humane.

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