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What is the McMaster model?

Adds structure (using 6 elements) to a family system that can be applied to any group of people attempting to function as a unit


What are the 6 elements of the McMaster Model?

1. Problem Solving
2. Communication
3. Roles
4. Affective Responsiveness
5. Affective Involvement
6. Behavioural Controls


What does the problem solving element of the McMaster describe?

This dimension refers to the family’s ability to solve problems at a level that maintains effective family functioning.


What are the two types of problem encountered in the problem solving element of the McMaster Model?

Instrumental problems – the practical problems of everyday life, such as financial problems or housing problems

Affective problems – problems related to feelings and affective conflict


What are the 7 stages of problem solving element of the McMaster Model?

Seven stages to the process:
1. Identification of the problem
2. Communication of the problem to the appropriate person(s)/resources
3. Development of alternative actions
4. Decision on one alternative action
5. Action
6. Monitoring the action
7. Evaluation of success of action


What is the most effective and least effective approaches to the problem solving element of the McMaster Model?

Most effective: when all seven stages are carried out

Least effective: when family cannot identify problem (step before stage 1)


What does the communication element of the McMaster Model describe?

The exchange of verbal communication, the relationship between verbal and non-verbal communication, and the way communication is received.


What issues does communication deal with?

Instrumental or affective issues.

(Although there can be some overlap between the two areas, some families may communicate effectively about practical issues but communicate ineffectively about some affective issues. The reverse is rarely, if ever, seen.)


What does clear and masked communication mean?

Is the content of the message clear or is it camouflaged or vague (masked)?


What does direct and indirect communication mean?

Communication either explicitly directed towards the individual for whom it is intended (direct), or only implicitly (indirect)


What does congruent and incongruent communication mean?

The relationship between verbal and non-verbal communication: whether the relationship between verbal and non-verbal behaviour is congruent, or incongruent?


If communication is received in a way that is understood, what are the 3 ways it can be received?

1. Validated- where it is acknowledged that the communicator has communicated what they communicated. Validation does not necessitate that the recipient of the communication, sympathises with the communicator, only that he/she acknowledges the content of the communication

2. Ignored- the recipient acts as if the communication had not occurred

3. Disqualified- the recipient denies that the communicator had the experience about which he has communicated.


What is the most and least efficient method of communication?

Efficient - high congruence, high validation, high clarity, high directness

Inefficient - low congruence, ignored/disqualified, low clarity, masked and indirect


What does the roles element of the McMaster Model describe?

Roles are the repetitive patterns of behaviour by which individuals fulfil family functions.

Such roles may be concerned with instrumental or affective areas, or both.


What 5 roles have been defined under the roles element of the McMaster Model?

1. Systems management and maintenance
2. Resource provision
3. Nurturance and support
4. Sexual gratification of parent/parental figure
5. Life skills development


Under the roles element, what is systems management and maintenance?

Comprises management functions such as leadership, decision making and the maintenance of appropriate boundaries both within the family and between family and the outside world.


Under systems management and maintenance (roles element), what is role allocation?

Assignment of responsibility for family function. Is it clear who assigns such responsibility? Is this process carried out implicitly or explicitly? Is it negotiated, discussed or ordained? Are the roles allocated to appropriate or inappropriate family members? This involves issues of power, control and possible over-burdening.


Under systems management and maintenance (roles element), what is role accountability?

Refers to the process whereby a family member is made accountable for the responsibilities he or she has been allocated and the process whereby family members are positively reinforced for the successful achievement of role functions.


Under the roles element, what is resource provision?

Is there regular provision of food, clothing and money for the family? If so, which family members are responsible for this provision?


Under the roles element, what is nurturance and support?

What are the arrangements for the provision of comfort, reassurance and support for family members? Who provides nurturance and support for whom?


Under the roles element, what is sexual gratification of the parent/parental figure?

The nature of sexual gratification is considered, but often not systematically enquired except if a marital problem was manifestly present (it would then be explored in the absence of other family members).

For example, whether the sexual relationship between parent or parental figures is based on whole-object relationships with tenderness, mutual initiative and tolerance of regression or is it based on part-object relationships devoid of tenderness and so rigid and inflexible?


Under the roles element, what is life skills development?

Are there resources within the family to foster and enhance the potential and aspirations of family members?

This refers to adults as well as children. These might include the functions necessary to help a child start school successfully or to encourage the child to pursue interests- or the functions necessary to support an adult to pursue a career, a vocational interest or to re-enter education.


Under the roles element, when are the roles most effective?

When all necessary family functions have clear allocation to appropriate individual(s) and accountability built in, and “least effective when necessary family functions are not addressed and/or allocation and accountability is not maintained"


What does the affective responsiveness element of the McMaster Model describe?

This dimension accounts for how family members respond emotionally in their various relationships.

Whether there is a broad range of affective response or whether it is stereotyped and restricted?

And if affective responses usually appropriate to the situation both in quality and degree.


Under the affective responsiveness element, what are the two types of feelings that can be expressed (responses)?

Welfare Response (Feelings): such responses as love, tenderness, sympathy, happiness and joy

Emergency Response (Feelings): e.g. fear, panic, anger and disappointment


What is the most functional family dynamic under the affective responsiveness element?

The more functional the family, the broader the repertoire of affective responsiveness; less effective functioning would be associated with a narrower range of affective responsiveness, and the amount and quality of such responsiveness perhaps distorted in relation to the context.


What does the affective involvement element of the McMaster Model describe?

Degree and quality of concern and interest for one and another


Under the affective involvement element, what is enmeshment?

Exclusive, all encompassing closeness via appropriate EMPATHETIC involvement


Under the affective involvement element, what is narcissistic involvement?

Investment in others is mainly based on egocentricity, others are valued only in as much as they gratify self-esteem


Under the affective involvement element, what is absence of involvement?

This type of involvement is found in families who appear to function as if they were strangers who happen to be living under one roof