A dialogical model of MULTIFAMILY GROUP THERAPY
Multifamily Therapy refers to a model of therapeutic intervention in which more than one family are treated simultaneously. It is a product of the logical confluence of the family and group models of therapy, further strengthening the main principles of both.
While there are several forms of intervention based on the theoretical basis and techniques used (psychoeducative, systematic or psychoanalytic multi-family groups, among others), the Multifamily Group Therapy model described by Peter Laqueur and the Multifamily Psychoanalysis described by Jorge García Badaracco have probably been the most influential in the field of mental health, not only in southern Europe but also in Latin America.
In our case, the application of this model stems from the interest of a forum of professionals from the Spanish province of Alicante based in the Interfamily Therapy Center (in Spanish, Centro de Terapia Interfamiliar, CTI) and from the Mental Health Association (in Spanish, Asociación Salut Mental, ASM) in the city of Elche, bound together by the concern of finding a more humane and social model of therapy that could be used by any institution related to the care of human problems.
At first, the forum of Elche got its inspiration from the model of multifamily psychoanalysis, but later redefined its theoretical basis with a more simple and universal vocabulary, further delving into the integration of other therapeutic models (systemic, cognitivist, gestaltic, humanist...) and integrating contributions made by other authors who have published their experiences in multi-family therapy (Laqueur, Foster, McFarlene and Asen, among others).
We often prefer referring to our model as Interfamily Therapy, as its transcendental feature is not the simultaneous participation of a number of families (multi), but rather the interaction and common elaboration between them (inter).
Because of its open, spontaneous and united context of several theoretical contributions, Interfamily Therapy represents a new metapsychology that goes beyond any other model of therapeutic comprehension, drawing its inspiration from social constructivism as a form of integration and positioning for the professional before the attended families.
At present, there are more than twenty-five regular multi-family group experiences following the multi-family/interfamily model and successfully working in institutions across the province of Alicante, which not only consist of those related to mental health, but also educative, social and general healthcare institutions (such as pediatric units).
Interfamily therapy integrates several forms of therapeutic intervention in an open and spontaneous context, thereby becoming the ideal eclectic and integrating model. Furthermore, given its openness to all social agents, it shares the principles of Attachment Theory applicated to clinical interventions and the postmodernist socio-community models such as the Dialogical Practices (also related to Open Dialogue described by Seikkula and his team in Finland) as it works like a microsociety composed of different families and professionals in which all participants can speak for themselves and discover their genuine self.
The possibility of treating several patients and their families simultaneously and integrating therapeutic interventions of various professionals in the same space allows a better use of institutional resources, even in an economy of means.
Interfamily experience goes beyond the group sessions and establishes itself as a novel way of dealing with psychological and emotional issues, share experiences with other people and learn with them. It is therefore a social revolution in current psychology and psychiatry that has only just begun.