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Objectives

Although the procedure of systemic family therapy has been extensively researched in Western culture, few studies on this subject have been conducted in China. The aim of this study was to specify the therapy-delivered interventions in Chinese systemic family therapy and to explore how Western-imported systemic therapy model is delivered in Chinese culture.

Design

A qualitative and exploratory research approach was taken in which thematic analysis was used to analyse the transcribed psychotherapy videotapes with Chinese families.

Methods

Twenty-six hours of video-recorded systemic family therapy sessions from 14 Chinese family cases were sampled. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the transcriptions of therapy sessions and identify therapist-generated interventions in therapy. Frequencies of different interventions were counted, and correspondence analysis (CA) was used to reveal the corresponding relationships between different interventions.

Results

Analysis led to two main themes related to therapists-delivered interventions: Therapist's intention and therapy technique. Results revealed 15 types of therapist's intentions and 16 categories of therapy techniques. CA indicated that therapists’ intentions changed across different therapy stages and specific techniques were used to achieve corresponding intentions.

Conclusions

Interventions delivered in Chinese systemic therapy are mainly adherent with Milan and post-Milan systemic models. Due to the shortage in systemic therapy service in China and Chinese culture advocating reverence to authority, components of psycho-education, guidance, and metaphor are adopted in Chinese systemic practice. Some directions for future research are suggested.