Intervening in Family Systems with Observer Messages

Douglas C. Breunlin*, Brian Cade

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This article presents an approach to family therapy in which a group of observers becomes part of a therapeutic team by introducing strategic messages into the sessions. The observers, who operate from behind a two‐way mirror, are thus able to effect change in both the family system and the therapeutic system consisting of family and therapist. Messages are described in terms of five components: function, target, timing, content, and delivery. Some guidelines for effective team functioning are given and three examples illustrate the approach. Finally, implications for training are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-460
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Marital and Family Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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