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Cultural/Systemic Approaches Family Systems
 

Cultural/Systemic Approaches Family Systems

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Family roles, family rules, hoemostasis/Equilibrium, family patterns…et cetera

Family roles, family rules, hoemostasis/Equilibrium, family patterns…et cetera

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    Cultural/Systemic Approaches Family Systems Cultural/Systemic Approaches Family Systems Presentation Transcript

    • Cultural/Systemic Approaches Family Systems Theory
    • Family Systems Theory
      • Family systems theory is a body of knowledge that has arisen out of the observations of clinical & counseling psychologists as they work with individuals and their families.
      • The theory suggests that individuals cannot be understood in isolation from one another—families are systems of interconnected and interdependent individuals, none of whom can be understood in isolation from the system
    • What does it mean to say a family is a system ?
      • To understand this better, consider the example of a mobile.
      • When you move any one piece of a mobile, all the other pieces move too! They do not exist in isolation from one another, and “movement” in any one part of the “system” will affect all the rest of the parts of the system.
    • Terms from Family Systems Theory that you’ll want to understand
      • Family Roles
      • Family Rules
      • Homeostasis/Equilibrium
    • Terms from Family Systems Theory that you’ll want to understand
      • 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. For example, one person may be the “clown” of the family. Another person may be the “responsible one.” One person may be the “emotional one.” Another role might be “crazy uncle Joe” who everyone knows is going to act odd in his own unique way. There are a lot of different roles in families.
    • Terms (cont.) FAMILY RULES
      • Family Rules are rules about how the family operates; these rules are often unspoken. For example…
          • When people are angry at each other, do they express this or keep it to themselves?
          • How affectionate or emotional are family members expected or allowed to be with each other?
          • 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 (& other similar types of things). These patterns become “unspoken rules.” Family members may see these things as “just the way it is,” but different families do these things differently from one another.
    • Reflecting on Family Roles & Family Rules
      • Take a minute to think about how you would answer the questions on the preceding slide with regard to your family!
      • Systems develop typical ways of being which are reliable and predictable. Family roles & family rules are examples of what I mean 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.
      • Think of the mobile. If you move one part, the other parts move. But if you let go of that one part, the whole “system” (i.e., the parts of the mobile) will “pull each other” back to the way they were before that one part moved.
      • This tendency of systems to keep doing things as they’ve already been done is known as homeostasis or the system’s equilibrium.
      Terms (cont.) HOMEOSTASIS--EQUILIBRIUM
    • Some examples of family patterns: Distancer-Pursuer Dyad
      • Often the roles that various family members take on are related to one another. For example, consider the distancer-pursuer dyad (a dyad is just a group of two people).
      • Sometimes in a relationship, there may be one person who seeks out closeness with the other person (the pursuer) while his/her partner (the distancer) wants more space or independence and pulls back from the relationship.
      • This pattern might occur in the marital relationship but might also occur in the parent-child relationship. Outside the family, you might see this pattern in dating relationships or even in close friendships.
    • Distancer-Pursuer Dyad & Circular Causality
      • As you might imagine, as the distancer & pursuer act out their “roles” within the relationship, a cycle can develop.
        • The pursuer pushes for closeness while the distancer pulls back.
        • The pursuer then feels “abandoned” and thus feels even more even more of a need for connection & so pushes even harder for connection.
        • As a result, the distancer feels “smothered” and pulls away even more…
        • … and so on & so forth…..a cycle!
    • Distancer-Pursuer Dyad & Circular Causality
      • One might ask: How do they get in the cycle? Who starts it?
      • Family systems theory sees this question as like the question: “What came first? The chicken or the egg?”
      • Just as the “chicken & the egg” question is impossible to answer, it may impossible to say whether the “distancer” or the “pursuer” started it! But in the cycle, BOTH patterns cause the OTHER
      • Family systems theorists refer to this concept as circular causality.
    • Distancer-Pursuer Dyad & Circular Causality
      • Circular causality refers to the fact that in family systems, each family member’s behavior is caused by and causes the other family members’ behaviors. They are each impacting the other, in a circular manner.
    • Some examples of family patterns: Overfunctioner-Underfunctioner Dyad
      • Another example of circular causality is the overfunctioner-underfunctioner dyad
      • In the overfunctioner-underfunctioner dyad, one member of the couple (the overfunctioner) is very responsible. This person wants things to be planned out. In contrast, the other member of the couple (the underfunctioner) may be less responsible, more fun-loving, more spontaneous, etc.
      • Imagine a married couple as they deal with finances in the family. The overfunctioner thinks that its important to budget and to stay within a budget. The underfunctioner thinks that sometimes you just have to be willing to splurge and enjoy!
    • Some examples of family patterns: Overfunctioner-Underfunctioner Dyad
      • The overfunctioner tends to see the underfunctioner as irresponsible and immature.
      • The underfunctioner tends to see the overfunctioner as controlling & rigid.
      • Just as we saw in the distancer-pursuer relationship, the more the overfunctioner overfunctions, the more the underfunctioner (in reaction) will tend to underfunction, AND VICE VERSA
      • The causality is circular! Once the cycle has started, each person’s behavior contributes to the other person’s behavior.
    • Circular causality
      • The distancer-pursuer and overfunctioner-underfunctioner are just two examples of the sorts of circular patterns that can develop in families. There are many other possibilities.
      • A good clue to a “circular” pattern is when people tend to respond in predictable ways to each other, and their responses may become more extreme or even “stubborn” over time.
    • A Question to Ponder
      • What “circular” patterns have you seen in your own family or other relationships?
    • Homeostasis & Equilibrium
      • Remember that we talked about how “systems” are resistant to change?
      • According to systems theory, this is true EVEN IF the change might seem to be a desirable one!
      • For example, if the “distancer” within a relationship tries to work at taking the initiative to seek out connection within the relationship, the “pursuer” may --in perhaps unintended, subconscious ways---sabotage the distancer’s attempts to change.
    • Family Systems & The Cultural-Systemic Approach
      • In conclusion, the Family Systems approach suggests that sometimes our behavior may have AS MUCH TO DO with the “systems” (groups) of which we are a part—and the patterns that get established within these systems-- as it may have to do with the personality of each person within the system.
      • This is a very different explanation to what shapes human behavior than many of the other perspectives we have looked at in class thus far.
    • Applying what you’ve learned!
      • Remember….to take the Jenzabar quiz before class on Wednesday Oct. 12!
    •