Family Systems Tools

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To facilitate change and break dysfunctional patterns, marital and family therapists access a number of interventions (Parrott, 2003). Some interventions that will be discussed in the paper are reframing, boundary setting, sculpting, genogram and powergram. These interventions are a part of the family system and are all-essential in family therapy. Reframing

"Framing refers to the way a conflict is described or a proposal is worded; reframing is the process of changing the way a thought is presented so that it maintains its fundamental meaning but is more likely to support resolution efforts.” Parties can engage in reframing on their own, but it can be extremely helpful to have a third party (mediator or facilitator) to guide the process. It becomes the mediator or third party's job to restate what each party has said in a way that causes less resistance or hostility. In other words, the mediator helps disputants communicate and redefine the way they think about the dispute, in the hopes of enabling cooperation between opposing sides. The ultimate goal of reframing is to create a common definition of the problem acceptable to both parties and increase the potential for more collaborative and integrative solutions (Spangler, 2003). The process of reframing can occur quickly if parties are receptive to it, or it may take more time if they are not. In many cases, parties are not aware of the true nature of the conflict. They know they are angry, that they have been wronged, and that they want retribution. However, they may not be able to identify the problem clearly. With the assistance of a mediator and the passing of time, the parties are given the chance to explore the nature of the conflict. Through this process, they will hopefully begin to understand the underlying causes of the conflict. Once parties begin to truly understand each other's point of view, it makes it easier for them to think about solutions that will work for both sides. Boundary Setting

Family Systems theorists empathize on boundaries between family members, because boundaries are exactly where problems tend to occur. “A boundary is a sort of psychological perimeter and definition that people draw around themselves, and around particular relationships they are involved in.” Dombeck, Ph.D. (Copyright © CenterSite, LLC, 1995-2011 p2). Boundaries mark off where one person or group ends and another begins. “Healthy boundaries act as containers that keep things apart that need to stay apart, and also as roles that help people to know how to act. The boundary around the family as a whole helps family members know who is a member and who is not, for instance. The boundary around the parents helps them keep their adult sexuality and communication apart from their children. The boundary around each child and adult within the family helps each family member keep some secrets that are theirs alone” Dombeck, Ph.D. (Copyright © CenterSite, LLC, 1995-2011 p2). Family problems occur when boundaries break harmful situations. For instance incest cases would be a boundary issue because an unclear path of what is expected from that family member. Families dealing with spousal abuse often fail to protect their children from that abuse. Family systems therapists look for patterns of boundary violation in the families they work with, and then work with family members to try to correct what is bent or broken. Sculpting

Family sculpting according to Parrott (2003) is an intervention that has family members physically participate in forming a model of his or her role within the family. The family member can then change his or her position to express what he or she feels is the role that he or she would like to be in. The family member is asked by the therapist how he or she feels in this particular role within the family setting. The representation of the family appears as the sculptor views the family according to Hearn & Lawrence (1981) Sculpting within a...
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