Family Systems Theory

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Generalist Practice: Micro Interventions : 

1 Generalist Practice: Micro Interventions Family Systems Theories of Helping

General Systems Theory : 

2 General Systems Theory Provides social workers with a conceptual framework that shifts attention from a cause/effect relationship of paired behaviors, to a broader environmental etiology of behavior Observes the following: A person is only a piece of their entire life situation Dynamic interactions between person, systems and environments Functionality as an individual and a system It is not enough for the social worker to simply assess the client and then the environment, but the dynamic processes must be integrated into a biopsychosocial hypothesis that reflects the presenting behavior within the context of ecological systems

General Systems Theory : 

3 General Systems Theory One of the Best Ways to view General Systems Theory is in the context of family life: a subsystem of the larger community system The whole is greater then the sum of its parts Changing one part of the system, results in changes to other parts of the system Families become organized and developed over time. Families are always changing and, over the life span, family members assume different roles Families are generally open systems in that they receive information and exchange it with each other with people outside the family. Families vary in their degree of openness and closedness, which can vary over time according to circumstance Individual dysfunction is often reflective of an active emotional system. A symptom in one family member is often a way of deflecting tension way from another part of the system and hence represents a relationship problem (I.E. the identified patient)

General Systems Theory : 

4 General Systems Theory Four key Domains of Environmental Interactions Situation: The part of the environment that is accessible to an individual’s perception at any given moment of time Micro: The part of the physical and social environment that the individual has direct contact with and can interact with in daily life Mezzo: The part of the environment that in some way or other influences and determines the character and functioning of the micro environment Macro: Common to most members of groups living in it and involves physical, social, cultural, economic, and political structures of the larger society

General Systems Theory : 

5 General Systems Theory Rules & Roles in General Systems Theory Rules can be conscious and unconscious Often times the unconscious rules have more impact on social exchange Boundaries: Both physical and unconscious Roles: Adopted within the family systems in order to maintain equilibrium Role Contiguity: Whether Peter’s expectations of Peter’s behavior is the same as Susan’s expectations of Peter’s Behavior Role Competency: Does one have the skill or knowledge to meet prescribed role expectations and does the person understand their role Role Conflict: Demands of two roles conflict with each other…example: being a mother and a full-time student

General Systems Theory : 

6 General Systems Theory Other Key Terms Open versus Closed Systems Entropy: The process by which order of a system is lost Negative Entropy: Increase in order (example: evolutionary theory) Homeostasis: A fixed or optimum state Equifinality: All roads lead to Rome

Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) : 

Aponte, H.J. (2002). Structural Family Therapy. Social Workers Desk Reference (Roberst, A.R. & Greene, G.J., Eds.) New York: Oxford Univeristy Press 7 Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) Basic Goal: By changing the structure of the family, both the behavior and intrapsychic processes of the family will be changed. This theory is very concrete, based upon the here and now, and a very involved social worker It Consists of Seven Basic Premises Focuses on Concrete Issues Located in the Present Mediated through Client’s Experience Based on Reorganizing the Structure of Family Relationships Built upon Client Strengths Aimed at Palpable Outcomes Active Involvement of the Social Worker

Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) : 

8 Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) Focused on Concrete Issues: The social worker addresses the most urgent issue that has the families attention first This is considered the most compelling concern. Success breeds success The concrete issue can be anything as long as it is of the utmost concern to the family Look for motivations behind actions and tie these motivations into interventions as they will increase the likelihood of success Spirituality, Existential Meanings, Key Relationships…whatever works….think practical.

Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) : 

9 Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) Located in the Present The past is accessible through the present, as current behaviors are related to past interpretations…there is no need for regressional work The client issue contains the focal point of today’s concern, the dynamics currently generating the distress, and traces the family history that explains the why and how of the problem’s birth. Be remedying and changing the current structure, past memories, perceptions, and psychological residue are alleviated.

Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) : 

10 Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) Mediated through the client’s experience The primary model of intervention is enactment of their issue in session…there is less focus on the verbal recount of a situation as noted in traditional family therapy. The structural family social worker seeks to understand the unique experience of each individual within the context of the presenting concern and looks for areas of convergence and divergence in experience.

Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) : 

11 Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) Based upon Reorganizing the Structure of Relationships The social worker pays close attention to the structure of the family in context of the presenting concern Boundaries: What defines who is in or out of a family relationship in the context of the focal issue, as well as what their roles are in this interaction Alignment: Who is with or against the other in the transactions generating the problem Power: What the relative influence is of the participants in the interactions that contributes to the presenting problem Alignments, Coalitions, Disengaged Families, Enmeshed Families Look for the etiology of problems Conflicting feelings and needs Weakly organized relationships Both Encourage adaptive structures in family dynamics.

Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) : 

12 Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) Built Upon Strengths Identify current and underutilized family strengths/ resources to assist in alleviating the presenting concern. Integrate these strengths and resources within the family structure or relating Look to draw the good out of the bad

Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) : 

13 Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) Aimed at Palpable Outcomes Concrete change is manifested in an experiential method within session. These are practical methods for immediately addressing the family struggle and problem

Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) : 

14 Structural Family Theory (Minuchin) Characterized by Active Social Work Involvement Join the family interaction in a carefully planned, goal directed way The social worker may purposefully draw attention to the area of conflict to increase the emotional dynamics of the family system The social worker may purposely block pathological interactions within the family systems and force the family members to develop new methods of communication/interaction Supports adaptive behaviors Intensive use of “self” in the therapy process Assignment of homework…practicing a specific skill to change family structure.

Bowen Family Systems Theory : 

15 Bowen Family Systems Theory The goal of this theory is to encourage the individuation of “self” from family relationships, while not disengaging entirely. Family problems arise when individuals are “fused’ to other individuals in the family resulting in an “emotional oneness” This fusion both protects against threats to self (using the other persons identity/strengths to make you a whole person), while at the same time is threatening for if they change you lose a sense of yourself. Results in Triangulation to maintain power within the dyadic relationship.

Bowen Family Systems Theory : 

16 Bowen Family Systems Theory Bowen utilizes genograms to explore family functioning across three generations Identifies events that contribute to the present configuration of the family Notes important relationships, including tense and emotionally reactive relationships Identifies the particular kind of relationships patterns that characterize interactions from the family.

Bowen Family Systems Theory : 

17 Bowen Family Systems Theory Goals of Intervention Decrease anxiety Increase the functional differentiation of self Anxiety is decreased by utilizing cognitive processes to mitigate extreme emotional reactions Observe self, observe others, recognize anxiety, self-regulate Observe particular patterns in relationships and avoid fusion into those patterns Define and clarify relationships between two family members Maintain a neutral position Teach the functioning of emotional systems Think of the differentiated “self” and how the “self” cognitively chooses to respond.

Bowen Family Systems Theory : 

18 Bowen Family Systems Theory Disengagement doesn’t mean leaving the family…. Bowen argues Gain control over emotional reactivity Visit the family as often as possible Develop the ability to be an objective observer Develop person-to-person relationships in the context of the broader family.

Discussion of Family Intervention Paper : 

19 Discussion of Family Intervention Paper Read Syllabus Description Review Grading Criteria Hand out Case Study Student Questions/Clarifications