This theory emerged from General Systems Theory by scholars who found it had many
applications to families and other social systems. Any system is defined as a bounded set
of interrelated elements exhibiting coherent behavior as a trait. (Constantine, 1986).
Another definition is an assemblage of objects related to each other by some regular
interaction or interdependence (Webster). Families are considered systems because they
are made up of interrelated elements or objectives, they exhibit coherent behaviors, they
have regular interactions, and they are interdependent on one another.
The Components of Family Systems Theory are as follows:
• have interrelated elements and structure. The elements of a system are the
members of the family. Each element has characteristics; there are relationships
between the elements; the relationships function in an interdependent manner. All
of these create a structure, or the sum total of the interrelationships among the
elements, including membership in a system and the boundary between the
system and its environment.
• interact in patterns. There are predictable patterns of interaction that emerge in a
family system. These repetitive cycles help maintain the family’s equilibrium and
provide clues to the elements about how they should function.
• have boundaries and can be viewed on a continuum from open to closed. Every
system has ways of including and excluding elements so that the line between
those within the system and those outside of the system is clear to all. If a family
is permeable and vague boundaries it is considered “open.” Open boundary
systems allows elements and situations outside the family to influence it. It may
even welcome external influences. Closed boundary systems isolate its members
from the environment and seems isolated and self-contained. No family system is
completely closed or completely open.
• function by the Composition Law: the... [continues]
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