Circumplex Model

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Marriage and Family are very important aspects of the human experience. These two units play vital roles in who individuals are and who they may become. Many times issues or problems arise in the marriage and family structure thus, requiring therapy in order to make matters better. The Circumplex Model of Family and Marriage has been used and has been affective in the treatment process when helping dysfunctional families. The Circumplex Model of Marriage and Family Therapy developed by David Olson and other colleagues provides a road map in understanding the marriage and family experience. Circumplex Model of Marriage and Family

As previously mentioned, the Circumplex model of Marriage and Family Therapy was developed by David Olson and several of his colleagues. This model focuses on the three central dimensions of marital and family systems: cohesion, flexibility, and communication (Olson, 1999). In these dimensions the family system is ranged from balanced, to mid-ranged, to extreme. The family system is further ranked as chaotic, flexible, structural, or rigid. This model was developed in an attempt to narrow the separation of research, theory, and practice (Olson, 1999). Olson states that the model is specifically designed for clinical assessment, treatment planning, and outcome effectiveness of marital and family therapy. Three Dimensions of the Circumplex Model

As stated prior, the three dimensions of the Circumplex Model are cohesion or togetherness. The second being flexibility or the amount of change in the families leadership, role relationships, and relationship rules, and the last dimension is communication. Following is a clearer definition of each dimension: •Cohesion:Described as the emotional bonding that family members have toward one another. Family cohesion can be considered as emotion bonding, boundaries, coalitions, time space, friends, decision-making, and interests and recreation. The focus of cohesion is how systems balance their separateness versus togetherness. There are four levels of cohesion ranging from disengaged (very low) to separated (low to moderate) to connected (moderate to high) to enmeshed (very high). It is hypothesized that the central or balanced levels of cohesion (separated and connected) make for optimal family functioning. The extremes or unbalanced levels (disengaged or enmeshed) are generally seen as problematic for relationships over the long term (Olson, 1999). •Flexibility:This is the amount of change in its leadership, role relationships, and relationship rules. The specific concepts include leadership (control, discipline), negotiation styles, role relationships and relationship rules. The focus of flexibility is on how systems balance stability versus change. The four levels of flexibility range from rigid (very low) to structured (low to moderate) to flexible (moderate to high) to chaotic (very high). As with cohesion, it is hypothesized that central or balanced levels of flexibility (structured and flexible) are more conducive to good marital and family functioning, with extremes (rigid and chaotic) being the most problematic for families as they move through their life cycle. Flexibility focuses on the change in a family’s leadership, roles and rules (Olson, 1999). •Communication:This aspect is considered critical for facilitating movement on the other two dimensions. Because it is a facilitating dimension, communication is not graphically included in the model along with cohesion and flexibility. Communication is measured by focusing on the family as a group with regard to their listening skills, speaking skills, self-disclosure, clarity, continuity tracking, and respect and regard. In terms of listening skills, the focus is on empathy and attentive listening. Speaking skills include speaking for oneself and not speaking for others. Self-disclosure relates to sharing feelings about self and the relationship....
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