Salvador Minuchin

Born and raised in Argentina, Salvador Minuchin began his career as a family therapist in the early 1960's when he discovered two patterns common to troubled families: some are "enmeshed," chaotic and tightly interconnected, while others are "disengaged," isolated and seemingly unrelated. When Minuchin first burst onto the scene, his immediate impact was due to his dazzling clinical artistry. This compelling man with the elegant Latin accent would provoke, seduce, bully, or bewilder families into changing -- as the situation required -- setting a standard against which other therapists still judge their best work. But even Minuchin's legendary dramatic flair didn't have the same galvanizing impact as his structural theory of families.

In his classic text, Families and Family Therapy (Minuchin, 1974) Minuchin taught family therapists to see what they were looking at. Through the lens of structural family theory, previously puzzling interactions suddenly swam into focus. Where others saw only chaos and cruelty, Minuchin helped us understand that families are structured in "subsystems" with "boundaries," their members shadowing to steps they do not see.

In 1962 Minuchin formed a productive professional realtionship with Jay Haley, who was then in Palo Alto. In 1965 Munuchin became the director of the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, which eventually became the world's leading center for family therapy and training. At the Phiadelphia Clinic, Haley and Minuchin developed a training program for members of the local black community as paraprofessional family therapists in an effort to more effectively related to the urban blacks and Latinos in the surrounding community.

In 1969, Minuchin, Haley, Braulio Montalvo, and Bernice Rosman developed a highly successful family therapy training program that emphasized hands-on experience, on-line supervision, and the use of videotapes to learn and apply the techniques of structural family therapy. Minuchin stepped down as director of the Phildelphia Clinic in 1975 to pursue his interest in treating families with psychosomatic illnesses and to continue writing some of the most influential books in the field of family therapy. In 1981, Minuchin established Family Studies, Inc., in New York, a center committed to teaching family therapists. Minuchin retired in 1996 and currently lives with his wife Patricia in Boston.

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