Basic Family Systems Theory

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 1439
  • Published : July 19, 2010
Open Document
Text Preview

Basic Family Systems Theory and Microskills Used by the Helper

Basic Family Systems Theory and Microskills Used by the Helper
In terms of a system, the meaning is a consistent arrangement of things connected to form unity or to operate as a whole. These systems are dated back in origins to the 1950’s and 1960’s. In this theory we must understand an individual’s family and how it works for that family daily in the community, neighborhood, social aspect, and etcetera. When one part of the system changes, the whole system changes. When everything is balanced it is said to be in equilibrium or homeostasis which seemingly is a good thing (Poorman, 2003). There are many skills involved in working in the family system. I will address the three main microskills that I would use in my own setting as a helper toward this theory.

There are a few basic things that need to be addressed first to begin to understand the concept of working in family systems. Within the family system as a whole there are similar smaller systems knows as subsystems. Generally, there has been focus on three primary subsystems: marital (or couple), parental, and sibling. These can also branch off into other systems. This is where the saying, “A family is greater than the sum of its parts” comes into context (, 2009). The subsystems are defined by who makes up each and what their purpose or goal is in the family as a whole. Related to this concept are boundaries. Boundaries occur at every level of the system and subsystems (, 2009). Depending on the family and how they work, some have very open boundaries and other may have tight restrictions. These boundaries affect who and what is let in or out of the family as a whole and among the subsystems.

There have been many developments in approaches to family systems theories. There are a number of professionals in this field, I will try to discuss a few here in some detail and how they may be used in a helper setting. Salvador Minuchin focused primarily on structure of the relationships within the system and subsystems. I would tend to agree that you have to first identify the makeup of the whole family system and then also each individual subsystem to understand its organization. This is when you can address and understand the problems that shape not only the family problems and issues, but the individual problems and issues also.

Minuchin believes there are two types of family structure; disengaged family and the enmeshed family. I believe you have to identify which family type you are working with so you can focus on how to handle and help deal with the issues at hand. The boundaries and manner in which the system and subsystems approach each other directly affects how you as the helper should and would tackle your job.

Disengaged families have rigid boundaries and share little or no contact with family members. They operate in a very neglectful and isolated manner. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the enmeshed families. In this situation the boundaries seem to overlap and become over involved in each other’s subsystems (Poorman, 2003). This being said, it is my belief that when these are present they have to be addressed to get to the root of the problems or issues among the family and its subsystems. Even if you need to address one individual’s behavior above all others, it is still vital to understand the context of the family and how such problems develop. It is very crucial not to ignore or deny the importance of each individual that makes up the family system.

Murray Bowen, in a sense, built on Minuchin’s beliefs and thoughts about structure. Bowen believed that triangulation would improve issues- with a third parties involvement. Bowen believed that a triangle made a strong family structure (Poorman, 2003).

With this, as a helper I would see it fit...
tracking img