Using Triangulation Concepts to Understand the Doctor-Patient-Family Relationship

Johanna Shapiro, PhD

Practical teaching about families remains an elusive and challenging educational goal. This article provides a brief overview of the concept of triangulation and shows how it can be easily applied to the doctor-patient-family relationship. Examples of both negative and positive triangulation are
presented. Learning to recognize and work with triangles in the clinical encounter can lead to a more family-oriented approach in residencies, particularly for those lacking formal family intervention programs.

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