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Families as Systems

Nathan Loynes
So What?!?!
1.

Your role when working with families will
invariably require that you use power
in different capacities in...
(and) So What?!?!
communicate

You can (a)
the following knowledge
to families in order to help them understand themselves...
What is a ‘system’?

According to systems theory
the difference between a
‘collection’ and a ‘system’ is
that in a collect...
Before ‘Systems Theory’
Historically, theories of the world
were “fundamentally mechanistic
and reductionist. Complex
phen...
Bateson: ‘Billiard Ball’ model
What are Family Systems?
Families are SYSTEMS of interconnected and
interdependent individuals.
To understand the individu...
Some key features of the theory
• Family Roles
• Family Rules
• Homeostasis/Equilibrium

(Andreae, 2011: 249 in Turner)
Family Roles--what is expected of each
family member
• The most basic types of roles are “father,”
“mother,” “aunt,” “daug...
(Goldenberg, 1994 in Andreae, 2011:249)

1. Role contiguity: (A view of A = B
view of A)
2. Role competency: (A has a skil...
Family Rules are rules about how the
family operates; these rules are often
unspoken.
• When people are angry at each othe...
Equilibrium/Homeostasis
• Systems develop typical ways of being which are
reliable and predictable. Family roles & family ...
The following assumptions may be
made:
1. The whole is greater than the sum of parts.
2. Changing one part of the system l...
Open & Closed Systems
• In terms of families, truly ‘closed’
systems do not exist.
• Negotiation, communication,
flexibili...
Boundaries
• Boundaries are necessary for
differentiation of function between
elements of the system
• However, as well as...
Enmeshment versus Disengagement
Enmeshment

Disengagement

• Boundary is too
permeable
• Family members are too
involved w...
Families may be both enmeshed and
disengaged at the same time… A
parent may be overly-controlling of
the child ‘for their ...
The systems approach and [working with families]

Family problems that result from:
1. Lack of resources
2. Lack of links ...
Conclusions
• Families must cope with managing dynamic forces.
• These forces are often conceptualised in binary or
opposi...
Families as systems
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Transcript of "Families as systems"

  1. 1. Families as Systems Nathan Loynes
  2. 2. So What?!?! 1. Your role when working with families will invariably require that you use power in different capacities in order to get families to ‘change’. 2. Families may be resistant towards you and change for the following reasons… (and)
  3. 3. (and) So What?!?! communicate You can (a) the following knowledge to families in order to help them understand themselves better. (b) Use these frameworks to systematically assess and analyse families and make appropriate plans and (c), [for a bonus!], appreciate that when families do not want to work with you, it is likely for these rather than personal ones! reasons
  4. 4. What is a ‘system’? According to systems theory the difference between a ‘collection’ and a ‘system’ is that in a collection, the parts remain individually unchanged. (Andreae, 2011:243)
  5. 5. Before ‘Systems Theory’ Historically, theories of the world were “fundamentally mechanistic and reductionist. Complex phenomena were explained by breaking down and analysing the separate, simpler parts”. (Andreae, 2011:243)
  6. 6. Bateson: ‘Billiard Ball’ model
  7. 7. What are Family Systems? Families are SYSTEMS of interconnected and interdependent individuals. To understand the individual, we must understand the family system of that individual. People cannot be understood in isolation from one another.
  8. 8. Some key features of the theory • Family Roles • Family Rules • Homeostasis/Equilibrium (Andreae, 2011: 249 in Turner)
  9. 9. Family Roles--what is expected of each family member • The most basic types of roles are “father,” “mother,” “aunt,” “daughter,” “son,” “grandmother,” etc. What is expected from people in each of these roles? • But there are also roles beyond this most basic level: one person may be the “clown” of the family. Another person may be the “responsible one.” There are a lot of different roles in families.
  10. 10. (Goldenberg, 1994 in Andreae, 2011:249) 1. Role contiguity: (A view of A = B view of A) 2. Role competency: (A has a skill that meets B’s expectations?) 3. Role ambiguity: (Are roles explicit & clear?) 4. Role conflict: (A1 v A2)
  11. 11. Family Rules are rules about how the family operates; these rules are often unspoken. • When people are angry at each other, do they express this or keep it to themselves? • How do decisions get made in the family? Who has input and who is expected to “just go along”? How is the final decision made? • Are there limits on “how much” or in what ways kids can argue with their parents? • How much are family members “allowed” to talk to people outside the family about family problems? • Families tend to develop patterns about these sorts of things; these patterns become “unspoken rules.”
  12. 12. Equilibrium/Homeostasis • Systems develop typical ways of being which are reliable and predictable. Family roles & family rules are examples of what is meant by “typical ways of being.” • Whether these roles & rules are adaptive or not, there is a pull from the system NOT to CHANGE—but to continue functioning as things have always been. • This tendency of systems to keep doing things as they’ve already been done is known as homeostasis or the system’s equilibrium.
  13. 13. The following assumptions may be made: 1. The whole is greater than the sum of parts. 2. Changing one part of the system leads to changes in the other parts. 3. Families become organised and developed over time 4. Families are to different degrees ‘open systems’ 5. Individual dysfunction is emotional in origin manifested in relationship problem. [Andreae, 2011:247]
  14. 14. Open & Closed Systems • In terms of families, truly ‘closed’ systems do not exist. • Negotiation, communication, flexibility in shifting roles, interdependence and authenticity are hallmarks of open systems (Andreae, 2011:251)
  15. 15. Boundaries • Boundaries are necessary for differentiation of function between elements of the system • However, as well as being defined, they must also be sufficiently ‘open’ to allow flexibility: • Too open = Enmeshment • Too differentiated/closed = Disengagement
  16. 16. Enmeshment versus Disengagement Enmeshment Disengagement • Boundary is too permeable • Family members are too involved with each other’s lives. • Autonomous acts = betrayal • Anxious attachments? • Overly rigid boundaries. • Members share a ‘space’ but operate as separate units. • No sense of ‘connection’ • Detached • Avoidant attachments?
  17. 17. Families may be both enmeshed and disengaged at the same time… A parent may be overly-controlling of the child ‘for their own good’, but rejecting or oblivious to the child’s needs. (Phillip cited in Andreae, 2011:252)
  18. 18. The systems approach and [working with families] Family problems that result from: 1. Lack of resources 2. Lack of links between people and resource systems, or links between resource systems 3. Interaction problems between people in the same resource system 4. Interaction problems between resource systems [Devore & Schlesinger in Andreae, 2011: 246]
  19. 19. Conclusions • Families must cope with managing dynamic forces. • These forces are often conceptualised in binary or oppositional terms. • However, these oppositional forces may exist concurrently to greater/lesser extents at any one time. • Continuity versus change is one such example. • For a family to ‘continue’; it must develop mechanisms that promote it’s sense of identity (continuity) whilst also adapting (changing) within and ever-changing societal system. [Source: Andreae, 2011, in Turner, Social Work Treatment]
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