Doing Family Therapy

Third Edition
Craft and Creativity in Clinical Practice

Robert Taibbi

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ISBN 9781462521210
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324 Pages
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May 18, 2015
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324 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
May 18, 2015
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Price: $41.00 $30.75
324 Pages
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324 Pages
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Featuring rich case examples, this book has helped tens of thousands of students and therapists build the skills and confidence needed to tackle the full range of issues that families bring to therapy. Rather than advocating one best approach, Robert Taibbi shows that there are multiple ways to guide families and harness their strengths. The book maps out the challenges and process of the beginning, middle, and end stages of treatment; presents creative strategies for assessment and intervention with parents and kids of all ages; analyzes how working with individuals can effect helpful changes in couples and families; and offers practical tips for overcoming common roadblocks. End-of-chapter reflection questions and experiential exercises encourage readers to develop their own clinical style.

New to This Edition See also the author's Doing Couple Therapy, Second Edition: Craft and Creativity in Work with Intimate Partners.

“Frequently, the mere notion of managing more than one client in the room, managing clients of different ages, or managing the intensity of family interactions is intimidating for clinicians of any experience level who are just coming to family work. Taibbi's…book would be a useful place to start for beginning family therapists and clinicians from other disciplines beginning to do family therapy.”

Journal of Marital and Family Therapy (on the second edition)

“Robert Taibbi, a seasoned clinician, writes with an integration of intellectual confidence and empathy that is inviting to the beginning therapist. At the same time, this book provides an avenue for a more seasoned therapist to pursuing ongoing development. The text is substantive with a powerful reinforcement of pragmatic, sound principles that are integral to the practice of family therapy, regardless of the theoretical approach. The logical, organized presentation of topics helps organize the therapist's thinking about managing the family therapy process, beginning with the elements that serve as a foundation on which a family therapist develops skill, and progressing to strategies for ongoing skill development.”

Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic (on the second edition)

“A refreshingly practical insider's guide to the day-to-day work of family therapy. Taibbi opens his practice and invites us to experience the adventure of being a family therapist. He mentors the reader with wit and wisdom, creativity and conviction. Filled with fresh insights and inspiration, this book provides clinicians with clear direction and confidence for taking on the complexities of family work. It is a tried-and-true resource for both novice and experienced practitioners.”

—James L. Furrow, PhD, Evelyn and Frank Freed Professor of Marital and Family Therapy, Fuller Theological Seminary

“If I were to recommend only one family therapy text to a graduate student, this would be it. The third edition is an outstanding, thorough update that skillfully weaves in new insights from neuroscience, medicine, mindfulness, and trauma research. Most important for any beginning family therapist, the third edition is even more chock full of creative techniques for managing each clinical moment and the whole arc of family treatment. I’ve been practicing for 45 years, and I find Doing Family Therapy to be stimulating and clinically wise, as well as fun. It reminds me of why I fell in love with family therapy in the first place.”

—David C. Treadway, PhD, private practice, Weston, Massachusetts

“Looking for an introduction to family therapy that is comprehensive, practical, and engaging? Try this book. In a disarmingly entertaining style, Taibbi addresses fundamental aspects and challenges of doing family therapy with acumen and depth.”

—Harry J. Aponte, MSW, LCSW, LMFT, Department of Couple and Family Therapy, Drexel University

“Doing family therapy can be challenging even for the most experienced of us—and for beginners it can be an ordeal for both the family and therapist. That is why this book is such a valuable resource. Taibbi draws from a variety of approaches and integrates them smoothly into a highly pragmatic work that includes concrete advice and realistic examples. I recommend it for novice therapists, who will take comfort in the clarity of Taibbi's guidance, as well as veterans, who will find plenty of material with which to identify and compare notes.”

—Richard C. Schwartz, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance

“Taibbi offers us front-row seats for observing the heart and soul of family therapy at its best. With depictions of challenging family cases, he does a brilliant job of bringing to life the importance of passion, courage, risk taking, and humor in clinical work. This is a great resource to turn to for practical family therapy tools and strategies—and for a strong dose of inspiration when feeling stuck.”

—Matthew D. Selekman, MSW, LCSW, Director, Partners for Collaborative Solutions, Evanston, Illinois

“In the third edition of this excellent text, we are reinvited into the world of actually doing family therapy—as opposed to merely learning about theories and techniques. Taibbi has done it again, providing an eminently helpful resource for students. The book is replete with all the wonder, anxiety, joy, frustration, and courage that surrounds the choice to work in and with the power of living human family systems. My students loved the prior edition, and I plan to use the third edition in my Family Therapy class in the fall.”

—J. Vincent Nevins, PhD, LMFT, Counseling Psychology Department, Dominican University of California

“I’ve used Doing Family Therapy for my Clinical Social Work Practice: Couples and Families course for 10 years. Master's students love this book because of Taibbi’s personal, relatable writing style. He builds excellent rapport with the reader and utilizes the clinical relationship to model and teach through the text. The use of case examples for every therapeutic principle grounds the material in real-life clinical experience and helps to alleviate some of the anxiety that often plagues new therapists. Students also find the end-of-chapter 'Looking Within' exercises to be especially beneficial, especially when we expand on them in class discussion. The third edition more clearly identifies the elements of the process of doing family therapy, with remarkably sensitive methods and strategies for holding, framing, working in, and managing those processes.”

—Victoria A. Fitton, PhD, LMSW, ACSW, MSW Program Director, Michigan State University

Table of Contents

1. Family Therapy: Welcome to Oz

2. Core Concepts: Process, Patterns, Problems, and Resistance

3. The Basic Six

4. In the Beginning: Great Expectations

5. In the Beginning: Running the Sessions

6. The Middle Stage: Are We There Yet?

7. Endings: Enough Already?

8. Billy Has a Problem: Kids in the Family

9. Billy: The Story Continues—In the Middle of the Middle

10. “See How She Treats Me!”: The Parent–Adolescent Struggle

11. The Parent–Adolescent Struggle II: The Return of Ms. Harris and Ellen

12. Getting to the Core: Couple Work in Family Therapy

13. The Power of One: Individual Work in a Family Context

14. Staying Sane: Survival Tips for Therapists

Suggested Reading


About the Author

Robert Taibbi, LCSW, has more than 40 years of experience as a clinician, supervisor, and clinical director, primarily in community mental health, and is currently in private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of several books, including Doing Couple Therapy, as well as over 300 magazine and journal articles, and writes a column entitled Fixing Families for Psychology Today online. He provides training both nationally and internationally in couple therapy, family therapy, brief therapy, and clinical supervision.


Students and practitioners in marriage and family therapy, clinical psychology, social work, psychiatry, mental health counseling, and pastoral counseling.

Course Use

Serves as a text in such courses as Family Therapy, Marriage and Family Therapy, Family Psychology, Social Work Practice with Families, and Family Counseling.
Previous editions published by Guilford:

Second Edition, © 2007
ISBN: 9781593854775

First Edition, © 1996
ISBN: 9781572301818
New to this edition: