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Family Systems Theory - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Family Systems Theory. Definitions . A system is defined as a whole made up of interactive parts. You can not add these parts together and get the total system. The system is more than the sum of it’s parts. Family System.

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  • A system is defined as a whole made up of interactive parts. You can not add these parts together and get the total system. The system is more than the sum of it’s parts.

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Family System

  • A family system is a social or biological construction made up of a set of people related by blood or intention.

  • Members interact in reciprocal relationships, responding to one another in the content of roles.

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How they operate

  • Each family type describes the way the family system operates within each type

  • In assessing family types, Olson (1993) uses a multisystem assessment, which includes looking at different subsystems within the family, such as the martial system, parent-child system, and the family as a whole

  • Each family type can very much be thought of as separate family cultures, in which underlying group norms, role, behaviors and expectations

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Family Communication

  • communication is either good or poor

  • The types of systems families have reveal their communication types

  • Communication is verbal and nonverbal

  • It includes rules within the system

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“Change vs Stability” entirety – not just one or some parts

  • Family systems are stable in their chaos and orderly in their disorder

  • Families are predictable in general and unpredictable in detail

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Homeostasis entirety – not just one or some parts

  • The tendency of a system to return to a state of equilibrium

  • This is counteracted in the need for change in a living system

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Subsystems entirety – not just one or some parts

  • Smaller units within the larger system that share the characteristics of the larger system

  • Multiple identities with in the system

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Feedback Loops entirety – not just one or some parts

  • the feedback loop as a “path along which information can be traced from one point in a system, through one or more other parts of the system or its environment, and back to the point of origin

  • Feedback loops are of two types: positive and negative

  • A negative feedback loop has been likened to a homeostatic system, in which the feedback loop provides information that returns the system to some preset level and reduce deviation causes to the system.

  • A positive feedback loop tends to promote change

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Three main dimensions, family cohesion, flexibility and communication

  • “family cohesion is defined as the emotional bonding that family members have toward one another” (Olson, 1993, p. 105)

  • “family flexibility is the amount of change in its leadership, role relationships, and relationship rules” (Olson, 1993, p. 107)

  • “family communication is measured by focusing on the family as a group with regards to their listening skills, speaking skills, self-disclosure, clarity, continuity-tracking, and respect and regard” (Olson, 1993, p. 108). 

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Family cohesion has four separate levels communication

  • Disengaged

  • Separated

  • Connected

  • Enmeshed

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Family flexibility has four levels communication

  • Chaotic

  • Flexible

  • Structured

  • Rigid

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Rigidly Enmeshed communication

  • Strictly enforce rules

  • Negotiations are limited

  • Rules are unchanging

  • Roles are clearly defined

  • Little separation of self

  • Time together & little private space

  • Few outside friends

  • Decisions made by the whole not individual

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Chaotically Disengaged communication

  • Little discipline

  • Limited leadership

  • Impulsive decision making

  • Little role clarity

  • Frequently changing rules

  • Emotional separateness

  • Low interaction

  • Private space

  • Individual friendships

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  • A Marital Relationshipsdisengaged relationship often has extreme, emotional separateness. There is little involvement between the couple or a family member and a lot of personal separateness and independence. Individuals often do their own thing and have separate interests.

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  • A Marital Relationshipsseparated relationship has some emotional separateness but is not as extreme as the disengaged system. While time apart is important, there is some time together and some joint decision-making. Activities and interests are generally separate but a few are shared.

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  • A Marital Relationshipsconnected relationship has some emotional closeness and loyalty in the relationship. Time together is more important than time apart. There is an emphasis on togetherness. While there are separate friends, there are also friends and interests shared by a couple or family.

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  • An Marital Relationshipsenmeshed relationship has an extreme amount of emotional closeness and loyalty is demanded. Individuals are very dependent on each other and reactive to one another. There is a general lack of personal separateness and little privacy is permitted. The energy of the individuals is mainly focused inside the marriage or family and there are few outside individual friends or interests.

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  • Cohesion focuses on the ability of the couple and family system to balance separateness and togetherness. Very high levels of togetherness (enmeshed) and low levels of togetherness (disengaged) might be problematic for a marriage and family. On the other hand, relationships having moderate scores (separated and connected) are able to balance being alone together in a more functional manner.