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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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
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.
“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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.