ASWB Exam Prep: Structural Family Therapy

By Heidi Tobe on November 2, 2022

The past couple months’s blogs highlight two therapy theories that can show up on the test: Gestalt and Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Today’s blog covers another of the many therapy theories that can show up on the ASWB exams: Structural Family Therapy. For the ASWB exams, you need to know a little bit about a lot of therapy theories. Our ASWB LMSW and LCSW exam prep programs cover the many theories you'll want to know for the exams. Today we give a brief introduction into Structural Family Therapy. For those of you interested in learning more, TDC has an excellent and engaging 3 hour CE course on Structural Family Therapy. 

Structural Family Therapy

When differentiating Structural Family Therapy from other family therapies, I like to keep in mind the word ‘structure’ itself. Change occurs through remodeling of the family’s organization (or ‘structure’). Family issues can arise due to maladaptive boundaries and subsystems within the family system, and the therapist helps the family understand how the family structure (relationships, alliances, and hierarchies) can be changed. This therapy can be used for both enmeshed and disengaged families alike.

ASWB Practice Question

structural family therapy

A structural family therapist meets with a family to work on becoming more connected as a family. The parents report the family is disconnected and isolated from one another, rarely engaging with each other or doing anything together. They state they can go days without talking to one another. What is the FIRST task of the therapist:

A. Normalize children spending less time with family during adolescence.

B. Join with the family.

C. Create a family map.

D. Explain that disengaged families have a greater prevalence of substance abuse. 

(scroll for answer and rationale)








The correct answer is B: To join with the family. Joining with the family is one of the first tasks of a structural family therapist. This involves blending in with the family, adapting to their language, affect, and style to better understand their interactions and structures. A is incorrect for two reasons. First, the question stem doesn’t tell us the children are adolescents. Second, going days without talking to one another wouldn’t fall within the realm of normal adolescent development. While C is something the therapist may do, it would come after joining with the family. While D is a factually accurate statement, it doesn’t apply to what the family has shared so far.

ASWB masters (LMSW) and clinical (LCSW) exam preparation

We hope that you are feeling increasingly prepared for the therapy theories. If you’re not, be sure to check out our thorough therapy theories quick study in our LMSW and LCSW programs. Struggling with understanding a particular therapy theory concept? Be sure to reach out to your coach via the ‘ask a coach’ form in your study center. All of our exam prep programs include access to coaching with coaches who have taken the exam you’re preparing for!

Already licensed and looking to learn more? TDC has been working hard to increase our online CE offerings. Like our exam prep programs, they are relevant, engaging, accessible, and practical. Check them out today!


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