Family Systems Theory


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  • Hello everyone! Good evening! Aristotle once said, “ Man is by nature a social animal.” It is one of our distinguishing characteristics. As we do not exist in a vacuum, we meet other people – at school, at work, inside the jeepney, inside the church, inside the elevator, in IT Park, etc. And who do you think is the most pervasive social group that shapes OUR behavior? Yes, it’s the FAMILY. Understanding the family is very crucial for social workers and psychologists that it lead to the development of Family Systems Theory.
  • At the end of the discussion, the students should be able get at least 80% accuracy on the following:
  • Before we proceed though, I would like to define the terms that we will be using. SYSTEM – on the left hand side you have a scale, and on the right is you have a chime. Basically, the principle of balance works in these things right? Such that….. So, in a system, you have?... Interrelatedness..
  • And as family, nowadays, is a social construct, we would define it per google definition, as a group….
  • Family systems theory is actually used to diagnose and cure problems of an individual. But actually, it is more than a therapeutic technique. It is a philosophy that searches for the causes of behavior, not in the individual alone, but in the interactions among the members of a group. It looks into the relationships of an individual to one another, because the basic rationale would be that all parts of the family are interrelated. Families are not the same, it has properties of its own which can only be understood when you look into the interactions among the members.
  • There are lots of theorists about family system like Ackerman (1959), Jackson (1965), and Bowen (1978). But let’s take a look a Patricia Munichin’s idea on Family System.
  • There are no the same families. Large families are structurally different from a 4-member group. Therefore, in trying to understand a family, we must look into the characteristics of the family sysem. First you have the external and internal boundaries – like how open or closed a family is to one another, or to the strangers.. Second, you have the family rules – like if the parents are authoritarian or not, or if there’s a martial law in the house, or is it the father who has always the say over things… Third is the family role organization – like who does this, who does that.. Fourth is power distribution – like is the decision only done by one member, who is the follower, is there consultation.. Or none.. Lastly, communication process – how do you communicate to one another, how secretive, or open are you.. So we’ll discuss these characteristics one by one.
  • external boundary of a family as "that invisible line that separates what is 'inside' the family and what is 'outside' the family."  This outside boundary defines the whole family in relation to other systems such as schools, churches, or other families, and outside individuals. Although this boundary is not physical, it can be detected, to some extent, by observing the way a family uses its space.  For instance, the family can describe its boundaries quite precisely with fences, walls, and hedges.  Or, it can rely simply on the property line with little to separate one family's property from another.  The family, too, can make it relatively easy or difficult to gain access by use of gates, doors, dogs, doorbells, or intercom systems.  For internal boundary, it is a kind of boundary that defines the relationship between and among the subsystems. Among the siblings, subsystems such as “men”, “women” of the family are created. For example, in most families the parental subsystem, be it two parents or one, will establish itself as being "in charge" of the sibling subsystem.  The boundaries and rules are distinct and clear.  The parent or parents may interact frequently and informally with the children, or they may be somewhat remote and formal.  In some families, the interaction can be so free and open that the boundaries become blurred, and roles become confusing.  In some families, the rules of interaction can tend to be so rigid that people become distant and alienated.  They are not there to support each other.
  • Many of these rules are "silent contracts," not openly recognized. The rules are repetitive, predictable, and stable, although, like many traditions, how and why certain rules were established may be lost or forgotten.  The rules that are developed by the family system ensure its stability, promote cohesiveness, and help to establish the identity of a family as distinct from other families. For instance, the rules about bedtime and homework which operate in a family with young, school-aged children are no longer appropriate when the children reach high school.  In one family these rules may be changed by democratic family process initiated by the children.  In another the old rules may not be open for discussion and may remain rigidly in place, leaving the adolescent to choose between obeying inappropriate rules or rebelling.
  • Family Systems Theory

    1. 1. FAMILY SYSTEMS THEORY DP Sed 101 Child and Adolescent Development
    2. 2. SYSTEM  INTERRELATEDNESSWhen you move any one piece, allthe other pieces move too! Theydo not exist in isolation from oneanother, and “movement” in anyone part of the “system” will affectall the rest of the parts of thesystem.
    3. 3. What is Family Systems Theory Family systems theory is more than a therapeutic technique. It is a philosophy that searches for the causes of behavior, not in the individual alone, but in the interactions among the members of a group. The basic rationale is that all parts of the family are interrelated. Further, the family has properties of its own that can be known only by looking at the relationships and interactions among all members.
    4. 4. Patricia Munichin- is a Professor Emerita at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Codirector of Family Studies, Inc. Trained as a developmental psychologist, she has been interested in bringing a developmental orientation into clinical work with families and a systemic perspective into psychological research.
    5. 5. Characteristics of the family system: – External and internal family boundaries – Family rules – Family role organization – Power distribution among family members (equilibrium) – The communication process
    6. 6. External and internal familyboundariesA family has an invisible boundary that helps to define it as separate and different from other systems. There is a wide range of boundary styles ranging from open to closed. A family has internal boundaries that define how family members relate to each other. These are subsystems based on generation, sex, interests, etc.
    7. 7. Family rules Families maintain stability by developing rules about how to live together. Families have rules about everything. Some rules are explicit and some are not. Some can be discussed and some cannot. Families vary in the kind of rules they have, whether they can be discussed, how easily they can be changed, and how they are enforced.
    8. 8. Family role organization Role organization varies greatly among families. Ideally, roles within the family are both clear and flexible.
    9. 9. Power distribution among familymembers (equilibrium) Families develop characteristic ways to make decisions and to resolve conflict. Distribution of power usually shifts over time with needs of the members. It is important that there be a reliable, predictable pattern of power distribution.
    10. 10. The communication process Each family works out its ways of operating through a communication system. Families have many rules about communication which can be located on a scale ranging from open to closed. There is no one "ideal" type, and different styles work for different families.
    11. 11. FAMILY SYSTEM The family is not just a collection of individuals. It is a whole larger than the sum of its parts. A Delicate Balance A change in the family situation means readjustment of the total system and can pose problems and challenges for every single member. A Stable But Open System Every family is faced with the test of allowing for growth and change while maintaining the integrity of the system.
    12. 12. The Four Parenting Styles According to Patricia Munichin
    13. 13. 1. 2.4. 3.
    14. 14. Authoritarian Parenting  Children are expected to follow strict rules established by the parents. Failure to follow usually results in punishment.  Authoritarian parents fail to explain the reasoning behind these rules. IMPACT:Children who are obedient and proficient, but rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.
    15. 15. Authoritative Parenting Establishing rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow. Parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions. Parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing. IMPACT:Result in children who are happy, capable and successful.
    16. 16. Permissive Parenting Referred to as “Indulgent Parents,” have very few demands to make of their children. Rarely have discipline because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control. Generally nurturing and communicative with their children. IMPACT: Children rank low in happiness and self-regulation.Children more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.
    17. 17. Uninvolved Parenting  Characterized by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication.  Generally detached from their child’s life. IMPACT: Rank lowest across all life domains.These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.
    18. 18. ACTIVITY Given how the current generation has been greatly influenced by the advancement of technology, parents are justified to be authoritarian in their parenting style.
    19. 19. REFERENCES ppt Theory.pdf sec7ch1.htm model
    20. 20. WORD FOR THOUGHT “The attitude you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from more than what you tell them.They dont remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.” - Jim Henson
    21. 21. Reported by:Edwin EstreraDPE Feb 5, 2013Cebu Normal University