Myths and rituals: Anthropological views and their application in strategic family therapy Academic Article uri icon


  • Myth is often used in family therapy as a synonym for erroneous belief or fallacy which preserves a distorted reality of the family, and the concept of ritual is commonly limited to well-defined behavioral prescriptions. Anthropologists, however, emphasize the positive functions of myth and agree on both the ceremonial and symbolic nature of rituals. They also provide a framework for relating the two concepts. This paper presents three anthropological theories of functions of myth which seem relevant to family therapists, and provides a working definition of ritual. Using a case example, it proposes a bifocal model of family therapy which connects the two concepts to two levels of culture, ie, its ideational plane and its material plane, and helps to integrate therapeutic interventions at both levels.

publication date

  • January 1, 1989