This research paper will in detail find influences donating to the degeneration of African American marriages, increase of African American divorces, and how structural family therapy can impact it. Structural Family Therapy was developed by Salvador Minuchin and his associates in the 1960s due to the growing curiosity in alternative ways of hypothesizing suffering and familial dilemmas. Structural family therapy is reinforced by an undoubtedly expressed model of family functioning, and has been developed and used reliably in counseling sessions for children and their families (Ginginch & Worthington, 2007, 343). Also, this report will examine what can be done to change this disturbing status amongst African American families. Monetary, emotional, and cognitive stability are a few of the common reasons and profits of marriage.
Studies have discovered that marital couples in contrast to unattached couples are better-off, healthier, less stressed, and tend to live well into their mid-80s (Pindgerhughes, 2002, p. 269). Thus, there are numerous welfares of being married; it could be assumed that matrimony would be a shared objective for most citizens regardless of race. However, studies have publicized a radical deterioration of marriages inside the African American families alongside an increase in separations. African Americans are the least expected to wed, when they wed, they complete this task later in life, spending a smaller amount of time wedded than White Americans, and are more likely to become divorced.
Keywords: African American, Marriages, Structural Family Therapy, Minuchin Family Approach Research Paper
African American Marriages
There is a strong importance for research of the state of African American and marriage because there have been major changes from past African Americans’ marriages relating to this major decline. According to the National Center on African American Marriage and Parenting’s (NCAAMP) Marriage Index, in 1970, 70.3% of African Americans were wedded and those ratios steadily fallen about 61% in 1982, 51.2% in 1992, 38.9% in 2003, and 41.7% in 2010. The rate is declining so noticeably that marriage has been referred to as an “alternative life” for African Americans (Dixon, 2009). The NCAAMP’s marriage index exposed the proportions of wedded Americans which comprises 77.8% in 1970, 70.1% in 1980, 59.3% in 1990, 62% in 2000, and 59.7% in 2008. An assumption can be drawn from the above Marriage index reports that there is certainly an important variance between all married Americans and married African Americans along with a change in rates of matrimony from 1980 to modern periods.
Additionally, the declining rates of marriage, African Americans seem to be at greater hazard for matrimonial instability (Dixon, 2009, p. 30). Many of these influences are related to high male imprisonment, low sew ratio, poverty, uncertainty toward marriage and premarital sex. Rendering to research, there are numerous dynamics affecting the decline in marriages and rise of divorces among African Americans. These influences can be characterized as organizational, ethnic, individual, and interactive. Organizational issues as economic and demographic are most commonly focused on during the course of history. The extreme sex ratios between African American males and females have emotional impact on the African American nuptial rates (Rowe, 2007, p. 19). In 2003 there were an estimated 1.8 million more African American females in the population than males (U.S. Census, 2005 & Pinderhuges, 2002, 269).
Another donating feature is the high confinement and mortality rate of African American males (Hill, 2006, p. 421). African American males make up about seven percent of the populace but over fifty-one percent of the prison population (DuCille, 2009, p. 605). Furthermore, the desire to marry women of different races and choosing homosexual lifestyles contribute to the African American marriage rates. Another major issue that makes African American males less desirable for marriage is their struggles of the workforce. The joblessness rate among African American males has been consistently twice that of White American men from the time of the 1930s (Holland, 2009, p. 113). Research has also discovered that companies show negative opinions of African American men comprising that they are indolent, unreliable, deceitful, contain little work ethic, drag their feet, have deprived verbal skill and many others characteristics.
Consequently, these men do not have the capability to deliver for their families also make African American men postpone marriage and also become regarded as less wanted to espouse by the female population. The second sort of factor studied is ethnical. There has been shifting cultural trends disturbing African American marriage. The sexual revolt, gay and lesbian efforts, and activist movement are activities that distress wedding rates. Forty years ago, sex without marriage was not acceptable, but now it is a communal standard of culture. The feminist movement allowed women to obtain advanced positions in the labor force declining their dependence on males, triggering them not to marry or endure unhappy marriages. And, unconventional lifestyles were presented through the gay and lesbian population (LaTaillade, 2006, p. 327). Moreover, living together (cohabitation) is a cumulative behavior particularly within the African American community.
Historically, living with a partner before marriage was unacceptable, but is now widespread among African Americans and many other races. In contemporary times, individuals are determining on gaining independence before becoming married (Dixon, 2009, p. 31). The mass media industries and the way relationships are depicted on television and through music contribute to the marriage decline. Because of the support of extended family networks, divorce may seem less detrimental, making it more of an option when marriages are faced with challenges among African Americans (Hill, 2006, p. 439). Individual factors are tided in by considering individuals’ desire to marry, features they look for in spouses and what makes them commit to a relationship. For an individual to get marry the desire to be married has to be present.
One study found that when compared to White American men, African American men, anticipate less improvement from marriage in their sex lives and personal friendships and these account for most of the difference in the desire to marry (Holland, 2009, 107). The mate desired characteristics and expectation of marriage and whether it is realistic plays a major role in marriage. Similar to other cultures, African Americans generally believe in the husband being superior economically, educationally and acts as the provider of the family. Unfortunately for African American women, when compared to African American men, they are more likely to attend college and to marry someone below their educational and professional status. This pattern of education continues as two-thirds of African American college graduates are women (Hill, 2006, p. 423).
The desire to commit is another donating factor in related to marriage. Recent studies have revealed the beliefs of African American males having the incapacity to pledge to an eternal relationship. Lastly, as stated above separation rates are greater amongst African Americans than another culture. The features cited directly above are funding to these separation rates as well as African American not having the means to allow them to uphold vigorous long-lasting relationships. Studies have also displayed that the African American population is less expected to pursue marriage therapy adding to the state of African American divorce rate currently.
Structural Family Therapy
Structural family therapy (SFT) is a counseling technique of therapy developed by Salvador Minuchin which addresses problems in functioning inside a family. Structural Family Therapists attempt to pass in, or “connect”, the family in therapy in order to understand the boundaries and rules which oversees its effectiveness, record the associations between family members or amongst subsystems of the family, and eventually interrupt dysfunctional relations within the household, triggering it to become stable into healthier arrangements. Minuchin states that dysfunction does not rest in the singular identification, but within the entire family system. Minuchin’s tactic is originated on the interrelationship of the entire, and the foundation that individuals cannot be detached from the whole.
Therefore, Minuchin assumed that a change in the conduct of one household member will necessitate a consistent transformation in the behavior of other family member. Duplicate roles can affect the ability for a mother to parenting effectively. For example, a mother attempting to a both a parent and a friend or a father that was forced to raise his younger siblings (Rowe, 2007, p, 23). Structural therapists view the facilitation of structural variations in the dysfunctional family as the main objective, supposing that individual behavioral modifications as well as lessening of altercations will follow as the framework for the family’s communication changes (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2013, p. 329).
The structural family model expresses families as systems and subsystems, roles and rules (flexible and adaptable to changes), boundaries, power, and hierarchy. Minuchin defines a functional family as one unit with clear boundaries between individuals and subsystems, promotes growth, and prevents interruption. The primary objective when utilizing Minuchin’s model is assisting the family to change its structure or its organization. For instance, he stated that establishing a structure in which members and subsystems are clearly differentiated from one another and hierarchically integrated. Minuchin and other structuralists perceive standard family life as always altering and as a result endlessly creating adjustments to altering circumstances. What distinguishes functional from dysfunctional families is the flexibility in functional families to change or modify its structure to adjust to changing life cycle stages or to adjust to role changes or situational crises.
The clarity of boundaries between subsystems within the family, and an effectively functioning spousal subsystem, help ensure stability despite changing conditions (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2013, p. 472). Due to a recent mounting body of empirical evidence, studies continue to verify the value of structural family therapy. This method it was widely evaluated during the 1980s by radical novelists and during the 1990s by those interested in the allegations of a social constructionist point of view. Structural family therapy continues to progress in response to experiments built from within the systemic field, and as part of integrative practice and multisystem approaches, with practitioners ever mindful of the need for regular feedback from family members themselves (Rowe, 2007, p. 21).
By 1965, Minuchin had become director of the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, originally in the heart of the African American ghetto, where he focused on intervention techniques with low- income families (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2013, p. 130). The structural approach to therapy has been critiqued and has withstand various experiments from disbelievers; nevertheless, it has withstood throughout the years.
The trial of integrating Christian and non-Christian clients fluctuates between different counselors. When clients unambiguously expressed a want for Christian counseling, for example, if a client initiates a prayer within a counseling session. The Bible frequently assists clients to absorb; the implementation of scriptures can inspire progression within the session. Between sessions homework examining particular biblical themes likewise inspire development. For instance, our Worthington text states that the use of interventions make change sensible, and thus increases hope. Such interventions can involve physical manipulations, behavioral actions or interactions or making physical products (such as reports, written lists or tapes) that are completed and verbally processed. Worthington (2005) also stated that any theory of marital counseling can be used along with the counselor’s favorite techniques.
The requirements of integration are increased hope and willpower, fit within the strategic framework, and make change sensible to clients (p. 262). I believe that the frequency of use of scriptures should be guided by the consumer’s articulated openness. Although traditionally I am trained as a counselor not to reference spirituality or religion unless it is first stated by the client, I believe that many consumers who are not currently attending church would be reassured when I fling open that door. After which they can be provided the opportunity to walk through the door, lock it, or leave it partly open to be entered once ready. If my clients were to inquire for details on my beliefs, I would openly speak about my spiritual journey but also specify that I still have a ways to go.
Conversely, this does not take the practice of preaching on my individual Christian principles, or persisting them to trust what I have faith in. In addition, I could look for openings to propose the matter of religiousness and faith in an overall sense as a portion of my holistic approach; I would like to reassure my clienteles to discover the notion that stability in emotional and mental remedies are not exclusively associated with the rectifying of a particular issue; rather, comprehensiveness in therapeutic healing must integrate the multiple magnitudes of the client.
With this instruction and initial outline, it would be up to my client to make the decision to discover how their faith and current behavior are correlated to the complications that have been facing and how their spiritual philosophies influence their mental and physical healing. Studies proposes, that it is highly probable that counselors greatly misjudge “the sum of consumers that are experiencing faith-based problems due to” consumers “frequently misguided norms that religious concerns were not suitable for conversation” in conditions that were not plainly defined as Christian therapeutic settings (Worthington Jr, 2005, p. 262).
In this course, I began to understand how past generational beliefs can still impact my current viewpoint with assumptions and predisposition. As a result, I believe that it would be important for my clients to understand their spiritual journey on both a personal and generational level. During this course, we complete a genogram in order to observe certain behavioral and health patterns; however, I would like to integrate spiritual “family trees” into my counseling sessions. Spiritual histories, spiritual lifemaps, spiritual genograms, spiritual ecomaps, and spiritual ecograms are five harmonizing assessment approaches that have recently been developed to highlight different aspects of clients’ spiritual lives. Spirituality can be agreed as the client’s connection with (their) God, and religious beliefs can been understood as flowing from spirituality, the open expression of the spiritual bond in specific views, approaches, and principles that have been established in a community with other individuals who hold similar experiences of transcendence (Hodges, 2005).
Consequently, spirituality and religion are similar yet present differences. Therapists must understand that a single assessment approach is not ideal for all consumers and circumstances. The assessment tools examined in this article was purposefully designed to highlight different aspects of clients’ spiritual worldview. In a counseling session, these assessment methods can become a useful resource to providers that require assistance with clients handling with challenging issues. These interventions can be used as coping strategies since the user can visibly see their peer support networks on paper. Spiritual assessments are beneficial for clients that have misplaced their connection with God; spiritual ecograms permits the user to see where their spiritual journey is currently and where it used to be.
For example, it may benefit clients with major depressive symptoms to recognize support organizations such as professional group memberships, church, and household. An alternative intervention to complete this task would be spiritual ecomaps. Counselors geared with this assessment, can assist their clients survey their previous and existing domestic and faith-based support systems. Subsequently, some assessment approaches will be implemented more effectively in some situations but preferably these assessments are seamless for clients that have gone astray. Various assessments can be used to meet the needs of the client; however, certain assessments may be more operative with some clients than others. Consequently, the therapist must primarily evaluate the clients’ needs and what they wish to gain from counseling.
This will support the therapist in selecting a suitable spiritual intervention approach. If I am offered a client that desires to change to a diverse faith but it religiously disorganized, I would implement spiritual genograms. This intervention would aid counselors to view if the clients’ preceding descendants all practiced the same religion. Accordingly, I could determine that the client has an admiration for customs which is producing the spiritual misperception. A consumer may want to change to a different spiritual belief system but does not want to insult their families; this approach can be paired with spiritual ecograms; letting them to evaluate their previous and current rapport with God.
After assessing their support systems and their spiritual journey, the client could productively create the judgment on whether to alter their religion or not; the therapist should not make this choice for them. In my opinion, couples should undergo marriage education and counseling before being able to marry. My marriage and family counseling session would contain the data of African American marriages since couples need to have insight on the problem in order to prevent from being a part of the problem. Hence, unions would gain awareness on the low marriage and high divorce rates within the African American community. Thereafter, perhaps these marriages would fight harder for their marriages and maintaining their families.
In conclusion, couples receiving education on the state of African Americans marriage and divorce along with counseling prepare them with the utensils required to maintain a healthy marriage. I believe that any union seeking assistance would profit with these counseling technique both prior and during the course of marriage. Additionally, I also have faith that this these methods can produce an upsurge in couples getting and/or staying married and a reduction in the shockingly elevated rates of African American divorces.
Berenson, S.K. (2011). Should Cohabitation Matter in Family Law?. Journal of Law & Studies, 13(2), 289-328. Burton, L.M., Winn, D., Stevenson, H., & Clark, S. (2004). Working with African American Clients: Considering the
“Homeplace” in Marriage and Family Therapy Practices. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy, 30(4), 397-410. Clarkwest, A. (2006). Premarital Characteristics, Selection into Marriage, and African American Marital Disruption. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 37(3), 361-380. Dixon, P. (2009). Marriage Among African Americans: What Does the Research Reveal?. Journal of African American Studies, 13(1), 29-46. DuCille, A. (2009). Marriage, Family, & Other “Peculiar Institutions” in African American Literary History. American Literary History, 21(3), 604-617. Gingrich, F., & Worthington Jr, E. L. (2007). Supervision and the integration of faith into clinical practice: Research considerations. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 26(4), 342-355. Goldenberg, H., & Goldenberg, I. (2013). Family therapy: An overview (8th ed.). Pacific Grove,
Hill, S. A.(2006). Marriage Among African American Women: A Gender Perspective. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 37(3), 421-440. Hodge, D. R. (2005). Developing a Spiritual Assessment Toolbox: A Discussion of the Strengths and Limitations of Five Different Assessment Methods. Health & Social Work, 30(4), 314-323. Holland, R. (2009). Perceptions of Mate Selection for Marriage Among African American, College- Educated, Single Mothers. Journal of Counseling & Development, 87(2), 170-178. Kostenberger, A. J., & Johns, D. W. (2004). God, marriage, and family: Rebuilding the biblical
foundation. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. ISBN: 9781581345803. Leslie, L. A., & Letiecq, B.L. (2004). Marital Quality of African American and White Partners in Interracial Couples. Personal Relationships, 11(4), 559-574. Marsh, K., Darity Jr., W.A., Cohen, P. N., Casper, L.M., & Salters, D. (2007). The Emerging Black Middle Class: Single and Living Alone. Social Forces, 86(2), 735-762. Martin, T. L., & Bielawski, D. M. (2011). What is the African American’s Experience Following Imago Education?. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 51(2), 216-228. Mc. Clain, C. (2011). Family Stories: Black/ White Marriage During the 1960s. Western Journal of Black Studies, 35(1), 9-21. Pinderhughes, E. B. (2002). African American Marriage in the
20th Century. Family Process, 41(2), 269. Rowe, D. M. (2007). Marriage and Fathering: Raising Our Children Within the Context of Family and Community. Black Scholar, 37(2), 18-22. Worthington, E. (2005). Hope focused marriage counseling: A guide to brief therapy. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.