Indian family systems, collectivistic society and psychotherapy
Indian society is collectivistic and promotes social cohesion and interdependence. . Relationships with others are emphasized, while personal autonomy, space and Structurally, the Indian joint family includes three to four living generations, . center in India to offer formal training and diploma course in family therapy. The concept of live in relationships is not new to the Indian society, the only difference is that earlier people were hesitant in declaring their status may be due to. In India, the guru has long been a spiritual leader. In contrast, the notion of spiritual gurus conjures images of hermits living in the mountains, That master- disciple relationship still resonates throughout Indian society – from the For Ranji David, an IT training manager, he was one of many gurus who.
This paper discusses the features of Indian family systems in the light of the Asian collectivistic culture that are pertinent in psychotherapy and family therapy as used in India, and its further scope. Culture has been shown to determine the family structure by shaping the family type, size, and form[ 34 ] and the family functioning by delineating boundaries, rules for interaction, communication patterns, acceptable practices, discipline and hierarchy in the family.
It is imperative then, that therapists understand the impact of culture on family functioning as well as in conflict resolution and problem-solving skills of the family members.
Classically, the cultures of Western Europe and North America with their complex, stratified societies, where independence and differences are emphasized, are said to be individualistic, whereas in Asia, Africa, parts of Europe and Latin America where agreeing on social norms is important and jobs are interdependent, collectivism is thought to be preponderant.
For more collectivistic societies like ours, the self is defined relative to others, is concerned with belongingness, dependency, empathy, and reciprocity, and is focused on small, selective in-groups at the expense of out-groups.
Relationships with others are emphasized, while personal autonomy, space and privacy are considered secondary. The point has been well discussed by Indian psychiatrists in the past. Surya and Jayaram have also pointed out that the Indian patients are more dependent than their western counterparts.
The traditional Indian family Any generalizations about the Indian family suffer from oversimplification, given the pluralistic nature of the Indian culture. However, in most sociological studies, Asian and Indian families are considered classically as large, patriarchal, collectivistic, joint families, harboring three or more generations vertically and kith and kin horizontally.
Such traditional families form the oldest social institution that has survived through ages and functions as a dominant influence in the life of its individual members. Indian joint families are considered to be strong, stable, close, resilient and enduring with focus on family integrity, family loyalty, and family unity at expense of individuality, freedom of choice, privacy and personal space.
Change in such family structure is slow, and loss of family units after the demise of elderly parents is counterbalanced by new members entering the family as children, and new members wives entering by matrimonial alliances, and their offsprings.
The daughters of the family would leave following marriage. Functionally, majority of joint families adhere to a patriarchal ideology, follow the patrilineal rule of descent, and are patrilocal; although matrilocal and matriarchal families are quite prevalent in some southern parts of the country.
Rules of conduct are aimed at creating and maintaining family harmony and for greater readiness to cooperate with family members on decisions affecting almost all aspects of life, including career choice, mate selection, and marriage.
While women are expected to accept a position subservient to males, and to subordinate their personal preferences to the needs of other, males are expected to accept responsibility for meeting the needs of others. The earning males are expected to support the old; take care of widows, never-married adults and the disabled; assist members during periods of unemployment and illness; and provide security to women and children. The changing Indian family The socio-cultural milieu of India is undergoing change at a tremendous pace, leaving fundamental alterations in family structure in its wake.
The last decade has not only witnessed rapid and chaotic changes in social, economic, political, religious and occupational spheres; but also saw familial changes in power distribution, marital norms and role of women. A review of the national census data and the National Family Health Survey NFHS data suggests that, gradually, nuclear families are becoming the predominant form of Indian family institution, at least in urban areas. The census, for the first time reported household growth to be higher than the population growth, suggesting household fragmentation; a trend that gathered further momentum in the and the census.
A comparison of the three NFHS data [ Table 1 ] also shows that over the years there has been a progressive increase in nuclear families, more in urban areas, with an associated progressive decrease in the number of household members. The family systems presently have become highly differentiated and heterogeneous social entities in terms of structure, pattern, role relationships, obligations and values.
Such transitional families though structurally nuclear, may still continue to function as joint families. The families are frequently subject to these pressures.
Countries within the developing world are impatient and intend to achieve within a generation, what countries in the developed world took centuries. For example, in a household where a woman is the chief breadwinner but has minimal standing in decision making, the situation leads to role resentment and disorganized power structure in the family. Indeed, studies do show that nuclear family structure is more prone to mental disorders than joint families. The resentment, however, passive and silent it may be, simmers, and in the absence of harmonious resolution often manifests as psychiatric disorders.
Somatoform and dissociative disorders, which show a definite increased prevalence in our society compared to the west, may be viewed as manifestations of such unexpressed stress.
Therefore, rather than lamenting on the change in societal structure and loss of the joint family, the therapist should be aware of the unique dynamics of each family he treats, and should endeavor to find and utilize the strengths therein, while providing ways to cope with stress within the limits of the available resources.
History and scope in India Social interventions with families to help them cope with problems have always been a part of all cultures in form of a variety of rituals, for example, the rituals surrounding death of family members.
Liebermann in Hungary began seeing and observing family members in therapy sessions. Bowen's observations on triadic relationship, fusion and distancing, nuclear family emotional process, multi-generational transmission processes and family constellation forms the basis of the family systems theory, which later came to be known as the Bowen's theory. By the mids, a large number of distinct schools of family therapy had emerged, some of which included brief therapy, strategic therapy, structural family therapy, and the Milan systems model.
Concurrently and somewhat interdependently with the systems theory, intergenerational therapies emerged, which theorized the intergenerational transmission of health and dysfunction and usually dealt with at least three generations of a family. After the lates, the field of family therapy saw many practical modifications of the earlier rigid theoretical frameworks, especially in the light of accumulated clinical experience in treatment of serious mental disorders.
In India, work in family therapy started in the late s, coinciding with the period of increased interest in psychotherapy in India. Vidya Sagar, who worked with families at the Amritsar Mental Hospital in the s, is credited as the father of family therapy in India.
His own writings on the topic are sparse, but he was able to involve families of patients in understanding and taking care of their patients with psychiatric illness, and to support each other through group participation. Mental Health Center, Vellore tried to focus on family education and family counseling on how to deal with the index patient and showed promising results of the family interventions.
The similar practice has been followed at all the GHPUs, which have been established in India over the last 5 decades. These units, though may not be conducing family therapy, are working with family involvement in treatment of the persons with mental illness.
Another major boost to family therapy in India occurred in the late s and early s, when the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences NIMHANSBangalore started working actively on family members of patients with psychiatric disorders, which ultimately resulted in the formation of a formal Family Psychiatry Center in Early work from the center showed that families could be taught to cope with their burden through education, counseling and group support in an effective manner.
In the late s, the center developed Indian tools for working in the field of family therapy, notable amongst which are the Family Interaction Pattern Scale, the Family Topology Scale[ 4445 ] and the Marital Quality Scale. At the turn of this century, it became the only center in India to offer formal training and diploma course in family therapy. The Schizophrenia Research Foundation at Chennai, which works with long-term care and rehabilitation of the chronically mentally ill patients, conducts a family intervention program, focused on education and coping of family members with the illness of the index patient.
The Indian Association for Family Therapy, founded sincehas also been working in the field to provide a platform for private therapists.
Effectiveness of family oriented psychotherapy in India Although a significant number of therapists practice family therapy in India in government and private settings, the published literature on the subject is surprisingly sparse. Most publications are issue based experiential accounts of the practitioners, rather than evidence based merits of particular therapy modalities.
Even then, most intervention studies report significant benefits whenever family have been involved in management of psychiatric disorders. Table 2 summarizes the findings of major family intervention studies from India. Two third of the group did very well or moderately well.
Table 3 summarizes the major points of various published studies on family therapy by Indian practitioners in last 15 years, that throw light on the process issues rather than the outcome.
Table 3 Open in a separate window Family oriented psychotherapy: Process and issues in practice Ideally, any psychotherapy would include intake process, therapy proper and a termination phase. Assessment of the family forms an important part of the intake phase and different therapists employ different techniques for the purpose like the three generation genogram; life cycle chart, structural map or the circular hypothesis. The three generation genogram diagrammatically lists out the patient's generation and two more related generations and helps to understand trans-generational patterns of interaction.
The life cycle chart explores the functions of the family and roles of different family members. A structural map shows the different subsystems in the family, the power structure and the relations between the family members.
This can show if relations are normal, overinvolved, conflictual or distant. The circular hypothesis generally used in systemic therapy helps to understand the meaning of the symptoms for the patient and the role of the family members in maintaining them. As most of these assessment tools were originally developed in the west, they need to be suitably modified for use in the eastern culture.
In the last few decades attempts have been to develop culturally sensitive tools to assess Indian family in treatment. The Family Topology Scale[ 52 ] is a 28 item scale that measures family types, and groups them into the five subtypes of normal, cohesive, egoistic, altruistic and anoxic.
Another tool, the Family Interaction Pattern scale,[ 44 ] looks into the developmental phases of the family. The scale has six subscales looking into leadership, communication, role, reinforcement, cohesiveness and social support. For assessing marital problems in Indian couples two tools are available: Marital Quality Scale[ 46 ] is a more comprehensive instrument for assessing marital problems and looks into 12 dimensions of understanding, rejection, satisfaction, affection, despair, decision making, discontent, dissolution potential, dominance, disclosure, trust and role functioning.
Such emic assessment tools are invaluable in understanding the unique problems of the family in our culture. The therapy proper is the phase, where major work on the family is carried out.
The school of therapy used depends on various factors. For example, the degree of psychological sophistication in the family will determine if psychodynamic techniques can be used.
The nature of the disorder will also determine the therapy, like the use of behavioral techniques in chronic psychotic illness.
Therapist's comfort and training, and the time the family can spare for therapy are other determining factors. Dynamic approaches generally take months to years, where as focused strategic techniques can bring benefits over a few sessions. Endo-cultural issues may crop up at the initial phases, which threaten to jeopardize the therapy outcome. The therapist needs to be aware of them and be sensitive and considerate.
Although Indian families are more encouraging and supporting of their mentally ill member, the rigid hierarchical structure of Indian families often hinders free communication of thoughts and feelings. Therefore, the therapist may encounter difficulties in improving family communication pattern. The therapist may come to an impasse, if he attempts to challenge the authority of the father or sides with the wife rather than with the husband in couple's therapy. Additionally, given the diverse cultural and social background, the therapy needs to be tailored to the needs of individual family, keeping factors such as socio-economic status, educational level and family structure nuclear, transitional, joint, traditional into account.
Directive approaches may be more suitable for traditional families, as the therapist is often looked upon as charismatic, authoritarian and in control of the session. Family and couple's conflict arising out of factors such as conflicts in families over dowry, or related to inter-caste marriage; sexual problems arising out of physical separation of couples due to job timing or placement; disagreement about child rearing practices both within couples and intergenerational ; conflicts related to husband's role in sharing in domestic chores for working couples; problems with unsupervised children, and loss or displacement of role or function of the elderly are only a few of the problems unique to modern Indian families.
Parent-child conflict from increased autonomy and individuation of the child are common in nuclear families. In recent times, increased demands on children or adolescents for academic achievements from parents, the culture clash with children going for night-outs, parties, raves and adolescent sexual experimentation have been reported by Indian therapists as common issues while dealing with adolescents.
It might be beneficial for the therapist to understand that in India and other similar collectivistic societies, the concepts of self, attitudes, values and boundaries are defined differently from those of the western world. In collectivistic societies the self is largely defined through the collective identity with family identity forming a significant component of the self-identity.
People from collectivist societies often tend to keep their personal problems to themselves, especially if their own opinions and experiences are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom and mores of the family. Typically, only in severe cases, the people seek support from outsiders, and even then at the cost of significant resistance from other family members, who may perceive help seeking from the therapist as a measure of failure of the family to solve the problem of their member.
Collectivist values make each member of the family responsible for the behavior and the life conditions of every other family member, even to the extent of denial of individual needs and aspirations.
In therapy, this often leads to over involvement, lack of privacy and space for the client. Indeed, negative expressed emotions that might hamper therapy and positive expressed emotions that help, have both been found to be more significant predictors of outcome in our country compared to the west. The concept can be used to help patients understand the process of psychotherapy and identifying one's hidden strengths. He has also emphasized on the use of concepts of Karma and Dharma in psychotherapy.
The termination phase summarizes the original problem, reviews the beneficial changes and patterns of interaction that have emerged through therapy, and stresses on the need for sustaining the improvements achieved. The follow-up sessions may be continued over the next 6 months to a year to ensure that the client therapist bond is not severed too quickly. These fundamental characteristics of the Indian family remain valid even now despite the changes in the social scenario. From a psycho-therapeutic viewpoint, in collectivistic societies like ours, the family may be a source of the trouble as well as a support during trouble.
It is therefore, plausible that the family might also provide solutions of the trouble and indeed, interventions focusing on the whole family rather that the individual often results in more gratifying and lasting outcome.
Sadly, the progress made in the last few decades has been minimal and restricted to few centers only and family therapy has not found popularity amongst the mental health community. Lack of integration of psychotherapy in postgraduate curriculum, lack of training centers for clinical psychologists, and lack of a good model of family therapy that can be followed in the diverse Indian setting are the three cardinal reasons for the apathy.
- Indian family systems, collectivistic society and psychotherapy
- The Indian “girl” psychology: A perspective
- Status of live in relationships in India
This does not absolve the mental health professionals from the responsibility of providing solutions for the problems of the family, which seems to have multiplied during the same time. The Indian family, which often feels bewildered in these times of changed values, changed roles, changed morality and changed expectations is in need of support and is ready for family therapy. If developed enthusiastically, family therapy might be the right tool to not only help the families in need but also to develop a huge resource in community-centered treatment of mental-health problems.
Footnotes Conflict of Interest: Family as a potent therapeutic force.
What Is It Like To Be In A Live-In Relationship In India? Quora Users Have All The Answers
Family theory and therapy. Textbook of Family and Couples Therapy: Part 1; Chap 1. Cultural concepts for family therapy. Hansen J, Falicov C, editors. Cultural Perspectives in Family Therapy: The Family Therapy Collections.
Ethnicity and Family Therapy. The Guilford Press; Falicov C, Brudner-White L. Shifting the family triangle: The issue of cultural and contextual relativity. The cultural story in multicultural family therapy. A tool for clinicians. Resiliency mechanisms in culturally diverse families. Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families. Preli R, Bernard JM. Making multiculturalism relevant for majority culture graduate students. J Mar Fam Ther. Understanding culture and worldview in family systems: Use of the multicultural genogram.Relationship Management Video Team Building Best Training Hindi English Delhi NCR India.
Couns Ther Couples Fam. Is there a case enough? Preserve and strengthen family to promote mental health. Intergenerational conflict within Asian American families: The role of acculturation, ethnic identity, individualism, and collectivism. Nelson K, Fivush R. The emergence of autobiographical memory: A social cultural developmental theory. The Courts have taken the view that where a man and a woman live together as husband and wife for a long term, the law will presume that they were legally married unless proved contrary.
The first case in which the Supreme Court of India first recognized the live in relationship as a valid marriage was that of Badri Prasad vs. Director of Consolidation, in which the Court gave legal validity to the a 50 year live in relationship of a couple.
The Allahabad High Curt again recognized the concept of live in relationship in the case of Payal Katara vs. Superintendent, Nari Niketan and others, wherein it held that live in relationship is not illegal. The Court said that a man and a woman can live together as per their wish even without getting married.
It further said that it may be immoral for the society but is not illegal. Again in the case of Patel and Others. It further held that there is no law which postulates that live in relationships are illegal. The concept of live in relationship was again recognized in the case of Tulsa v. In the case of S.
In this case, all the charges against Kushboo, the south Indian actress who endorsed pre- marital sex and live in relationship were dropped. State, the Delhi High Court has held that live in relation is walk in and walk out relationship and no strings are attached to it.
This kind of relationship does not create any legal bond between the partners. It further held that in case of live in relationships, the partners cannot complain of infidelity or immorality.
Again giving recognition to live in relationships, the Supreme Court in the case of D. The court made it clear that if the man has a live-in arrangement with a woman only for sexual reasons, neither partner can claim benefits of a legal marriage. The following conditions were laid down by the apex Court: The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses; They must be of legal age to marry; they must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried; They must have voluntarily cohabited for a significant period of time.
Conscious of the fact that the judgment would exclude many women in live-in relationships from the benefit of the Domestic Violence Act,the apex court said it is not for this court to legislate or amend the law. The court cannot change the language of the statute. State Of Maharashtra and Others.
The Indian “girl” psychology: A perspective
In October,the Maharashtra Government also supported the concept of live in relationships by accepting the proposal made by Malimath Committee and Law Commission of India which suggested that if a woman has been in a live-in relationship for considerably long time, she ought to enjoy the legal status as given to wife.
However, recently it was observed that it is divorced wife who is treated as a wife in context of Section of CrPC and if a person has not even been married i. The partner of a live in relationship was first time accorded protection by the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,which considers females who are not formally married, but are living with a male person in a relationship, which is in the nature of marriage, also akin to wife, though not equivalent to wife.
Section 2 f of the Act defines domestic relationship which means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family.
In the case of Koppisetti Subbharao Subramaniam vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, the defendant used to harass his live in partner for dowry. It is just a label given to demand of money in relation to a marital relationship. The Court rejected the contention of the defendant that since he was not married to the complainant, Section A did not apply to him.
Thus, the Supreme Court took one more step ahead and protected the woman in a live in relationship from harassment for dowry.
The Hindu marriage Act, gives grants the status of legitimacy to every child irrespective of his birth out of a void, voidable or a legal marriage.