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Family Systems Practice

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Family Systems Practice

"The family is a system pulsing with energy" (Parrott III, 2003). Not until recently did psychotherapy start using this "energy" in therapy. Family therapy has been around as early as the 1940s, it wasn't until the late 1970s that it took off with a new theory created by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, (Parrott III, 2003) the concept of von Bertalanffy's new theory was that couples and families which interact together will ultimately affect each other. The concept of this theory has quickly become the most used in models of therapy. Family systems therapy is often recommended for families who are dealing with issues that are affecting the family unit. Family systems practice is becoming an increasing form of treatment in our society as the family structure has changed and is continuing to change more than ever. Family systems practice goals are to help the family adjust to the occurring upset which is creating imbalance in the family. Families often come to counselors to change their lives in some way. Forms of family therapy which will be defined throughout this report are the circumplex model, structural therapy, and strategic therapy. Family therapy and model approaches, particularly in regard to understanding family systems practice will be uncovered so that the reader will have a greater understanding of the family systems practice.

Family systems practice therapy involves all people living within the same household. Some of the many types of therapy are based on the way a person or family is responding to a specific set of conditions and or conditions that are affecting an individual or the family as a whole. Rather than focusing on the symptoms of an individual this approach focuses on the family concentrating on relationships and communication. Clients often find themselves in the midst of some change they do not understand or over which they have little control. Counseling provides a framework of explaining change, how to assess its course or to predict its effects, and how to understand the affects that any change may have for the family.

It has been determined that several principles guide family systems psychiatry. Family involvement is one principle. In this principle family members and significant members of their social network are actively invited to participate in the planning of treatment. Systemic self-reflection involves the family, network and professional team members engaging in 'reflective conversations' about how the psychiatric problems emerged within the patient's. As well as what each of the participants could possibly contribute to the solution of these problems. Making sense of symptoms and questioning chronicity is another principle. Here the contextual understanding of the symptoms is evaluated. A culture of negotiation happens when the therapy engages in a different sort of "negotiation" between patient and treatment team when it comes to dealing with critical treatment issues, such as medication, compliance, treatment adherence, diagnosis, duration of treatment, or restricting measures when difficult situations arise. Overall, the patient is seen as a responsible partner who can be and has to be actively integrated in those negotiations. Family systems psychiatry is an organizational principle in that it calls for a managed organizational change so that the model can be appropriately (Schweitzer 2007).

Other principles determined to guide family therapy discussed in our text Counseling and Psychotherapy consist of the fact the people affect and are affected by their family contexts. Those families have predictable developmental stages and crises that are helpful in diagnosis. A client's symptoms are maintained by the family system. When an individual changes, the family system changes: or, when the context changes, the individual changes. Techniques from a variety of theories are useful. Emphasis in counseling is placed on the present rather than the past. Work should be centered primarily on resolving the presented symptoms. The family counselor accepts responsibility for facilitating change. Interpretations are used more for labeling and diagnosis than for promoting insight. Behavioral tasks and homework are assigned to family members. Lastly the counseling is usually brief, often lasting less than six months (Parrott, III, 2003).

David Olsen and colleagues are the founders of the Circumplex Model of Marriage and Family. Founded in 1983, the Circumplex Model of Marriage and Family have merged over 50 concepts about marital and family dynamics, "The model assumes that a marital or family system needs enough cohesiveness (togetherness) to give members a sense of identity and belonging and enough adaptability (change) to balance family needs for flexibility and stability" (Parrott, III, 2003). A major component of this model is that families need balanced levels of cohesion. Families have certain levels of enmeshment or disengagement. Enmeshment is closeness, loyalty and emotional bonds. Disengagement is the opposite, togetherness is not valued and a lack of attachment to each other exists leaving each person left on his or her own. If a family goes to the extreme in either direction it will become very dysfunctional. Families need to be enmeshed enough to have a sense of belonging and being loved but enough disengagement to function and grow as individuals. Olsen defines a family's strength as one that depends on its ability adjusting to change in power structure, role relationships, and rules in response to stress (Parrott, III, 2003).

The three dimensions of Olson's Circumplex Model, cohesion, adaptability, and communication are facilitated through family leisure. According to Zabriskie, recreating the family identity with over six decades of research has confirmed that cohesiveness and family strength is related to the family's use of free time. Shared leisure time experiences increase attachment and bonding in families. Many qualities of free time put a positive light onto the shared experiences of family leisure time. Some of these qualities are happiness, contentment, humor, and playfulness. By participating in leisurely activities together families are building a unique identity for their family. By building a more unique identity the family is strengthening the cohesiveness of the family (Zabriskie, 2001). The Circumplex Model is built around cohesiveness so a therapist may build leisure activities into the therapeutic plan for family members who are too disengaged.

Structural Therapy is one of the models of family therapy that involves family members developing a pattern of relating to each other for better communication within the family. Minuchin (1974) believed that a family is a system that operates through transactional



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