Structural family therapy is a body of theory and techniques that approaches the individual in his social context.
Therapy based on this framework is directed toward changing the organization of the family.
It shifts the focus from the individual to the person within their family.
When the structure of the family group is transformed, the positions of members in that group are altered accordingly. As a result each individual's experiences change.
The theory of family therapy is predicated on the fact that man (sic) is not an isolate. He is an acting and reacting member of social groups. What he experiences as real depends on both internal and external components. Man's (sic) experience is determined by his interaction with his environment.
The traditional techniques of mental health grew out of a fascination with individual dynamics. Of necessity, the resulting treatment techniques focused exclusively on the individual, apart from his surroundings. A therapist oriented to individual therapy still tends to see the individual as the site of pathology and to gather only the data that can be obtained from or about the individual.
A therapist working within an individual framework can be compared to a technician using a magnifying glass. The details of the field are clear, but the field is severely circumscribed. A therapist working within the framework of structural family therapy, however, can be compared to a technician with a zoom lens. He can zoom in for a closeup whenever he wishes to study the intrapsychic field, but he can also observe with a broader focus.