Studying for the NCE – CBT Family Therapy Defined

Metcalf (2011) states that CBT family therapy is based on Albert Bandura’s social learning theory.   Behavioral origins include skinner’s operant conditioning and Pavlov’s classical conditioning.  From this perspective, the cognitive processes people utilize are important when trying to understand how they make sense of their reality.  The behavioral influences provide insight on how beliefs and behaviors are observed and replicated in families.  With all this in mind, change occurs in CBT family therapy when new ways of thinking and interaction are allowed to occur.   This therapy is a present-oriented approach requires a direct and active role of therapists.

One Concept:  Invalidating Environment

Metcalf (2011) spends quite a bit of time discussing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, a model designed originally by Marsha Linehan, for patients with Borderline Personality Disorder.  A key theoretical concept in DBT is the invalidating environment.  This concept is based on the biopsychosocial model, which asserts mental health is a byproduct of individual vulnerabilities and environmental factors.   According to Linehan, invalidating environments are situations in which a person’s private experiences are met with disapproval and rejected.  Metcalf, (2011) states that in an invalidating environment a person is made to feel they should “not feel what [they] feel” (p97) or think what they think.  Understanding how invalidating environments affect a child’s emotional development is an important insight for parents.

Strengths of CBT

Strengths of CBT include its focus on the present alongside the direct and active role therapists take on when utilizing this model.  I also appreciate that CBT provides both insight and pragmatic solutions for families.  These factors allow this theory to be used in many contexts and even brief therapy.


Metcalf, L, (2011). Marriage and family therapy: A practice oriented approach. New York: Springer Publishing Company


Share This: