Family System Theory

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					 Family system theory is a body of
  knowledge that has arisen out of the
  observations of clinical & counseling
  psychologists as they work with individuals
  and their families.
 The theory suggested that individuals
  cannot be understood in isolation from one
  another-families are systems of
  interconnected and interdependent
  individuals, none of whom can be
  understood in isolation.
 To understand this better, consider the
  example of a mobile
 When you move any one piece of the
  equipments, all other pieces will need to
  move or will move. They do not exist in
  isolation from one another, and
  “movement” in any one part of the
  “system” will affect all the rest of the
  parts of the system.
   Intervention is influenced by views held about families by
    both the practitioner and the family.
   Patterns of interacting are unique to each family system.
    Invisible boundaries delineate the family from other
    environments of systems but allow transactions with these
    systems (Munichin, 1974 in Thomlison, 2007)
   When structure of the family system change, the family is
    transformed, and family membersare altered accordingly
    (Thomlison, 2007: 37)
   Families should be able to adapt and change according
    to intrenal and external conditions from the multilevel
    systems impinging on them. As a result , each person‟s
    experiences change.
   However, if families are inflexible, and unable to adapt,
    maladaptive patterns emerge. (Thomlison, 2007:37)
                         THE MULTIPLE
   DIFFERENTIATION
    OF SELF               GENERATION
                          TRANSMISSION
   TRIANGLES             PROCESS
   NUCLEAR FAMILY       SIBLING POSITION
    EMOTIONAL            EMOTIONAL CUT-
    PROCESS               OFF
   FAMILY               EMOTIONAL
    PROJECTION            PROCESSES IN
    PROCESS               FAMILY
 FAMILIES NEED BOTH THE WE AND THE I.
 DISENGAGED FAMILIES ARE ONE‟S
  WHERE PEOPLE ARE TOO DISTANT
 EMMESHED ARE WERE BOUNDARIES ARE
  BLURRED – INDIVIDUALITY IS SO
  ENTWINED THEY CANNOT BE
  THEMSELVES.
 PRESENTING SYMPTOMS
 EMOTIONAL CLIMATE OF THE FAMILY
 ATTITIUDES TOWARDS THE PRESENTING
  `CLIENT‟
 QUALITY OF RELATIONSHIPS (TENSION /
  HARMONY?)
1. The family as a system is greater that the sum
   of its individual systems.
2. The family system performs functions.
3. The family system develops system and
   subsystems boundries.
4. The family system evolves constantly, creating
   a balance between change and stability.
5. Family behaviours are best understood from a
   circular causality rather then linear (dyad)
   causality.
(Thomlison, 2007:37))
 Family Roles-What is expected of each
  family member ie. Father, mother,
  daughter, son or clown boy, teary baby,
  crazy john, responsible one and or weak
  child.
 Family Rules -How family operates, often
  unspoken, ie. How to express anger, how to
  express love, kids and parents, quite
 Homeostasis/Equilibrium-How do they
  adapt to change? ie. The tendency of a
  system to keep doing „normal‟ things as
  they have already been done previously.
 Dyad Patterns: A group of two people
  influencing one another
 For example: Sometimes in a relationship,
  there may be one person who seeks out
  closeness with the other person (pursuer)
  while his/her partner (the distancer)
  wants more space and independence
  and pulls back from the relationship.
 It can happened in parent-child
  relationship or couple.
2. Circular Causality- extending from dyad relationship
    and pattern
As you might imagine, as the distancer and the pursuer
    act out their ”roles” within a relationship, a cycle
    can develop.
-The pursuer pushes for closeness while the distancer
    pulls back.
-The pursuer then feels “abandoned” and thus feels
    even more of a need for connection & pushes even
    harder for connection.
-As a result, the distancer feels “smoothered‟ and pull
    back further
And so on and so forth>>>>>>>>>>>>>> a Cycle
                 “We seem to have lost all interest in sex”



“Irritable” ; “Weary”
                                                              “Largely absent”
Unexplained prutitis
                                                              “Eyes only for Sam”
                           mother             father



                                     Max
                                  11 months

                         Home
                                            Brother
                                                              Late for school
                                            Sam 6yrs
                                                              because of disturbed
                                                              sleep
  “The walls are thin”



           Max described as “Wakeful since birth” : “Demanding”
  Moved to country
                                    Live Apart

                                                          “Overprotective”
                                                          “Can be cruel & unjust”

                              mother
                                                 father
     “Distant”
                                     Phillipa
                                       22
                                       “”
                                                                 “Rebellious”
                           home
Shared by P &                               sister
Father “Oppressive”

                                                                    Moved abroad


   Phillipa says “Everything is pointless” : “ No Energy”
Entrances/ “Exits”          Birth Order
 Marriages/ Divorces       Stress Points
     /Separations           Timing/Flow of events/
 Births/ Miscarriages/      Patterns
     Adoptions              Raises questions on impact
 Deaths                     of people.
Illnesses                   Highlights anniversaries
Education levels            Household
Religious Conversions       Tense/ Close relationships
(Scott Peck‟s suggestion)   Easier to see whole situation
Gender                       and
Household composition       ask about inter-relationship
 PROBLEM OF ONE INDIVIDUAL BEST
  UNDERSTOOD WHEN PLACED IN A
  FAMILY CONTEXT
 THE PROBLEM IS OFTEN A SHARED ONE
 THE FAMILY ITSELF MAY HOLD THE KEY TO
  SUCCESSFUL SOLUTIONS
 Families are dynamic – there are multiple-interactions
  occurring; needs change; families have to adapt to new
  members coming in (eg. children) – as well as out;
  external environment impacts on family life.
 When there is tension between a couple a third person
  may become involved in a triangle.
 The history of the family can effect members in the
  present
 How people communicate; their motivation,
  expectations, needs – especially for attention and
  understanding, and anxieties are key factors; as our
  events which knocked the family `off-track‟.
 Interactionalist theory helps us to analyse a situation
 We need to see the whole system to understand what is
  going on and how to most effectively intervene

				
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posted:5/2/2011
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