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Contextual Therapy

The field of family therapy began in the 1950's when several talented psychiatrists and therapists sought out better ways to provide treatment. Several models of therapy developed as people worked on ideas and concepts. Although most models of family therapy have similar understanding and goals, there can be differences regarding interventions and strategies in the different models.

Contextual Family Therapy was pioneered and developed by Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy.
Dr. Nagy has wrote many books and articles on family therapy and Contextual Family Therapy. He was one of the original founders of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy in the late 1970’s and was a well respected humanitarian.  

Contextual Family Therapy focuses on the emotional healing that can occur within families. Each individual is considered, yet all family members should benefit from contextual therapy. When a family works on increasing fairness in their relationships, problems or symptoms will decrease. Fairness is based on a true understanding of the other’s side, being responsible and accountable for one’s own behaviors and taking action. Insight regarding ones relationships is helpful and leads to an exploration of actions that might be taken to re-balance or heal relationships.

Contextual Family Therapy uses the tools and ideas of other family therapy models. However, CFS's approach is not eclectic. In fact, there is an overlying guideline for treatment which Dr. Nagy called the Ethical Dimension of treatment. The focus and nature of contextual therapy is influenced by the ethical dimension of relationships. One such ethical concept is called multidirectional partiality. Contextual therapists utilize, model and teach multidirectional partiality through out therapy. This concept focuses on the best interests of each individual, even those not in the room, and relational fairness. For example, treatment cannot take a focus that would be genuinely harmful to any one family member. A woman should not make a decision or take action that would seem to be good for her, but would be harmful to her mother or her children.

Submitted by: Jean Banti

Jean Banti, the founder of CFS, began as a student of Dr. Nagy in graduate school in 1978. She continued to work with Dr. Nagy post graduate and adopted the principles of contextual therapy for her own work. CFS is named in honor of Dr. Nagy. Contextual guidelines are used in all aspects of CFS work. 

Please refer to the list of Contextual readings posted on this web site for further readings. 


Contextual Family Services - A New Jersey Non-Profit Corporation
44 Old Highway 22 - Ste. 6
Clinton, NJ 08809
Phone: 908.323.2368

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