OVERVIEW. Family relationships play a pivotal role in the mental and physical well-being of individuals and hence require a healthy balance of connection as well as individuation. The historical, social, and therapeutic foundations of family counseling have emerged from research and practice based in the Euro-American context, and thus extrapolating these models to other contexts, such as the African one, may omit the importance of the unique interactions families have with major environmental systems. In this chapter, we consider the social and psychological factors that differentiate clients of African ancestry; the history, research, and practice of family counseling; the utility of traditional therapeutic modalities; and current practices, legal and professional issues, research on counseling, within the African context.
By the end of the chapter, the reader should be able to:
Define the social and psychological factors that differentiate families of African ancestry from European and American families.
Understand the first- and second-order cybernetic techniques used in the counseling of families.
Discuss the importance of an ethically based practice.
Appreciate the operational difficulties inherent in using the nuclear family as the foundational basis for the conceptualization of family therapy.
Understand the impact of globalization on family wellbeing.
Evaluate prospective areas of research that would advance our understanding of the family dynamics within an African context.