Family Systems

Family systems therapy is a therapeutic technique that thinks about the family as a single, emotional unit. Each action and family member affects the others. Family systems therapy focuses on families and couples in intimate relationships with a goal of nurturing change and development. It tends to view change in terms of the systems of interaction between family members. It emphasizes family relationships as an important factor in psychological health. A professional trained in this technique will work on understanding the relationships within a family, and create a family history that will be the foundation for how current behaviors are viewed. No individual can be understood in isolation from the others in the familial unit. Issues shared among family members, such as substance abuse, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and schizophrenia are good candidates for a family systems approach. Think this approach might work for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s family systems specialists today.

Need help finding the right therapist?
Find Your Match

Meet the specialists


I consider various systems that each person experiences in order to see the bigger picture. Each person is influenced by their family, community, school, location, etc. We are all affected by the world around us, and often our family systems are templates we use for other relationships.

— Coriann Papazian, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

There are many different parts of you that protect you, that manage internal crises, and carry the emotional damage of our past traumas. I work with you to understand your full self, create an appreciation for yourself, and work to give yourself permission to be your true self.

— Stephanie Townsend, Licensed Master of Social Work in Marietta, GA

I am trained in family systems (Bowenian) approaches to therapy. By examining the patterns within the family and across generations, we can bring insight into behaviors that may be holding us back. This approach is especially useful in communities of color given our desire to maintain strong multi-generational kinship networks.

— Eldridge Greer, Clinical Psychologist in Denver, CO

As a marriage and family therapist my primary training and expertise is in family systems and working with relationship dynamics.

— Alana Ogilvie, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Portland, OR

I always knew I wanted to work with individuals, but I specifically chose systemic "marriage and family" training because I value seeing my clients in context. I have also experienced being a systemic therapy client, and I valued the non-pathologizing, multifaceted approach. My graduate education, internship, and professional experience have been in systemic settings, and I seek regular supervision from my systemically-trained supervisors and consultants.

— Easin Beck, Marriage & Family Therapist in Phoenixville, PA

Many of our issues come from our family of origin; therefore, I help you process, analyze, and connect how our relationships with our family and ourselves impact us. I use Functional Family Therapy (FFT) concepts and approach that allows me to work with family members in addressing repetitive cycles that impact family relationships. My goal when working with families is to find solutions and openly talk about the cycles that continue to create issues within family members.

— Julio Garibay, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Gardena, CA

A family is a system and when one person takes an action, another person within that family or even a couple dynamic will do something different too. We spend a lot of time in sessions talking about creating new patterns. We call them creating new circles in our couples therapy. I have heard so many families/couples repeating those yet hoping something changes. Let's break the old patterns! I AM A SOLUTION FOCUSED TALK THERAPIST and nobody works like I do.

— Larry Baumgartner, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Burnsville, MN

Have taken classes on this model and have learned to make a genogram for clients.

— Lee Denton, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Irvine, CA

When working with teens, I often include other family members. They can help support the teen dealing with difficult things or help them grow. Parents often learn that they can make changes to help the teen or change the family dynamics which changes the way the teen responds. Adults often need to explore their family growing up to see how that shaped them. We learn emotions, connection, worth, and behaviors from family. So if you find yourself stuck in a pattern chances are it started young.

— Rebecca Phifer-Ball, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in Greer, SC

None of us exists in a vacuum. We're embedded in systems large and small, and each of us in a family system. Often within these are our most precious and painful relationships- people who know how to push our buttons, patterns we can't seem to break. Family systems examines the push and pull of all members, acknowledging that every action is a reaction and that with awareness choice is possible.

— Polly Harrison, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

Family systems is extremely important work. I help you look at your family as a whole unit. By doing so, we can learn what areas need work and healing.

— Lindsey King, Counselor in Philadelphia, PA

By using evidence-based approaches like The Gottman Method and Bowen Family Systems, I can help you create new ways of relating to one another. You’ll learn to reduce conflict, improve communication, and rebuild. You’ll reconnect. At the end of each session, my goal is for you to leave with something concrete to apply daily. It might be something new to try or think about, something to read, or a new tool to begin using. These small steps will add up to the big changes you need to repair, reb

— Darrin Pfannenstiel, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate in Dallas, TX

Family systems therapy recognizes that individuals are deeply interconnected within their family units. By exploring the dynamics and patterns that shape relationships, this approach seeks to foster understanding, promote effective communication, and create a harmonious environment where each family member can thrive and flourish.

— Matthew Cole, Associate Professional Clinical Counselor in Venice, CA

I received specific training in understanding how each member can impact a family system and have worked on balancing out a system in the best interest of each family member.

— Martin Avellaneda, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

I am trained in family systems theory and use it as the guiding theory behind all other approaches. I often use genograms and explore family of origin issues in my therapy.

— Katie Dolinsky, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Westbrook, ME

Systems Theory is not necessarily about doing therapy with an entire family (who has time for that?). A look at your family system is like seeing the inner workings of a clock. We have much more information about how and why you are the cog shaped the way you are shaped, when we look at the functioning of the entire clock. What's magical is, by changing how you are shaped, or how you behave, you can't help but affect the shape (behavior) of all the cogs in your family, workplace or community!

— Kathryn Gates, Marriage & Family Therapist in Austin, TX

My degree from LIOS/Saybrook University includes a focus in Systems Therapy. The Family Systems we are exposed to during our development informs how we look at the world, our sense of ourselves, and how the two interact. Our Family System especially informs our behavior, and learning more about how that works, and how to change our interactions with and perspectives on our family unit helps lead to change in our own behavior.

— Kelley O'Hanlon, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Redmond, WA

Oftentimes becoming a mother brings up memories of our own childhood and gives us ideas of what we want to do with our own children. A family systems approach allows us to look at the family you came from and the family that you wish to create yourself.

— Linda Abdelsayed, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Newport Beach, CA