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Flashcards in Family Therapy Deck (59)
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What is unique about family therapy

Identified patient (considered to be problem in the family) is viewed as manifesting troubled or troubling behaviour maintained by problematic transactions within the family or between the family and the outside community.


When did some clinicians, dissatisfied with slow progress of working with individual patients, began to look at the family as the locus of pathology



Family therapists pay attention to what 2 thinngs

1. Family's structure (how it arranges, organizes and maintains itself)
2. Family process (the way it evolves, adapts or changes over time)


Organization and wholeness

A key concept to understanding how systems operate. Systems are composed of units that stand in some consistent relationship to one another, and thus we can infer that they are organized around Those relationships. In a similar way, units or elements produce an entity when they are combined. A change in one part causes a change in other parts and the entire system. No element within the system can be understood in isolation


Who was the first to see how the family might operate as a cybernetic system? What did he research

Gregory Bateson.

Study on schizophrenia and family interaction.


Cybernetic epistemology

Instead of assuming that one individual causes another's behaviour, believe that both participants are caught in a circular interaction, a chain reaction that feeds back on itself because each family member had deforms the situation differently


Linear causing

A simple nonreciprocal view that one event leads to another in a stimulus response fashion


Circular causality

Reciprocal actions occur within a relationship network by means of a network of interacting loops. Any cause is seen as an effect of a precious cause and becomes in turn the cause for a later event



Based on Greek word for steersman. Describes the regulatory systems that operate by means of feedback loops. Eg. Thermostat. When a crisis occurs in the family, family members maintain or regain a stable environment by activating learned mechanisms to decrease the dress. Rely on exchange of jnfo


Negative feedback

Attenuating effect, restoring equilibrium


Positive feedback

Leads to further change by accelerating the deviation


Explain family therapy and subsystems

Families are made up of several coexisting subsystems in which members carry out certain functions. A wife may also be a mother and a daughter. In dysfunctional situations, family members may sit into separate long term coalitions like males vs females.


Although family members may engage in temporary alliances, what 3 key subsystems will always endure

1. Spousal
2. Parental
3. Sibling



Invisible lines that separate a system, subsystem, or individual from outside surroundings. Protect integrity and distinguish insiders from outsiders. Gary from rigid to diffuse. Excessively rigid boundaries lead to disengaged families and diffuse boundaries lead to enmeshed families


Open system

Family is open to new experiences, is able to alter and discard unworkable or obsolete interactive patterns


Closed system

Boundaries not easily crossed, family is insular, not open to what is happening around it, suspicious of the outside world


Second order cybernetics

Acknowledged effect of observer (family therapist) on his or her observations. By helping define the problem, observer influences goals and outcomes


Gender sensitive outlook in family therapy

Careful not to reinforce patriarchal attitudes or class differences


Most family therapists view personality from what perspective

Family life cycle. Notes that certain predictable marker events or phases occur in all families and each family deals with it in some manner. Situational family c rises and certain key transition points are periods of special vulnerability. Ordinarily changes are gradual but certain discontinuous changes may be disruptive.


Family rules

Family therapists are especially interested in persistent, repetitive behavioural consequences that characterize much of what these patterns reveal about the family's interactive patterns


Redundancy principle

Used to describe a family's usually restricted range of options for dealing with one another. Don Jackson said they family dysfunction resulted from a lack of rules for accommodating changing conditions


Family narratives and assumptions

Some families view world as friendly, trustworthy and orderly. Others view the world as menacing, unstable and unpredictable. Families inevitably create narratives about themselves, linking certain family experiences together in a sequence to justify how they live as they do. Eg. Parents divorce frightened them about commitment to relationships


Pseudo mutuality

Expressing both positive and negative emotions to one another. Members in these families were absorbed with fitting in together at the expense of developing separate identities



Apparent quarrelling or bickering between family members is in reality merely superficial tactic for avoiding deeper and more genuine feelings



Masking effort to obscure the real nature of family conflict. Parental efforts to distort a child's experience by denying what ten child believes is occurring. This contradicts one person's perceptions and leads that person to question grip on reality. Eg. You must be tired; to to bed



A particular individual is held responsible for whatever is wrong with the family. Scapegoated family members are themselves often active participants and assume the role assigned to them


There is no single theory of psychotherapy for family therapists. Although all would agree with the following 7 basic premises

1. People are products of their own connections, and attempts to help them must take family relationships into account
2. Symptomatic or problematic behaviour in an individual arises from a context of relationships and interventions to help that person are lost effective when those faulty interactive patterns are altered
3. Individual symptoms are maintained externally in current family system interactions
4. Conjoint sessions, in which the family is the therapeutic unit and the focus is on family interaction, are more effective in producing change than attempts to uncover intrapsychic problems in individuals via individual sessions
5. Assessing family subsystems and the permeability of boundaries within and family and between the family and the outside world offers important clues regarding family organization and susceptibility to change
6. Traditional psychiatric diagnostic labels based on individual psychopathology fail to provide an understanding of family dysfunctions and tend to pathologize individuals


Monadic model

Based on the characteristics of a single person


Dyadic model

Based on a two person interaction


Triadic model

Based on interactions between 3+ people