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Flashcards in Stages of Family Deck (17):

Family Systems Theory

In order to understand an individual, you must understand their context (existence within a family). Relationship amongst parts of a system impact the individual parts. Family systems seek homeostasis; emotional distress is seen as a relational problem rather than an intrapsychic problem with ONE individual.


Subsystems within a family

Individual subsystems, marital/partner subsystem, sibling subsystem, parental subsystem


Larger systems that may encompass the family

Neighborhood, religious community, community/city, nation (USA! USA!)


Identified Patient

Person in family system exhibiting symptoms, but symptoms result from system as a whole



Family tree; stories + relationships useful


Positive feedback loop

No inhibition. One behavior increases the other behavior, which in turn increases the first behavior. EX. Man yells at wife --> Wife yelling at husband --> Husband yelling at wife -->. Repeat ad nauseum


Negative feedback loop

Product inhibition. Increase in behavior in one place causes a parallel decrease somewhere else


Double-Bind communication

Mismatch between physical/nonverbal communication and verbal communication


Healthy communication

Open, honest, and consistent



Tight boundaries within the family. No contact among family members. Insufficient support/structure.



Loose boundaries within family. Too much contact among family members; inappropriate sharing/relationships. May have lack of differentiated roles in family.


Differentiation of self

To function healthy, an individual needs to see themselves as a different human being than their family. Need to think critically about emotional issues within the family rather than acting out on them (drama) and without blaming others



Opposite of differentiation. Individual does NOT see himself outside the family role. Rational thinking overwhelmed by emotion. 2+ ppl lack boundaries. Increased during stress.


Bowen's family systems concept

Dyads are inherent unstable because conflict can occur. Triangles occur via triangulation, a normal and common phenomenom. Higher stress, more people brought in. Temporarily stabilizes relationship, but overall makes stabilization difficult because third party individuals needed for continued stability.


Spirituality/Religion and health

Intrinsic (not extrinsic) religiosity linked with positive health outcomes. Source of community, material support. HOWEVER, may involve prescriptions against specific types of healthcare.


Greatest stress in families occurs?

Transition points: marriage, birth/adoption, death, deployment/return, incarceration, child leaving home, loss of employment. Heightened Stress --> Symptoms, stress during an earlier transition point may re-appear as symptomalogy during a later transition point.


Healthy adjustment for children of divorce

Children know whats going on and why, have time to process with parents, have basic economic and psychologic needs met, able to maintain important family relationships from before divorce, relationship between parents is supportive and cooperative, CO-PARENTING IN RELATIONSHIP IS CENTRAL