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.

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A systems approach is inherently a generous, inclusive approach because it understands even the most problematic individual behavior in the context of a system's main goal: survival. It protects against scapegoating and shame by seeing all behavior as purposeful and protective and steering away from a single "identified patient." When different members can begin to become conscious of and take ownership of the roles they have occupied, they are in a position to make some exciting changes.

— Geoffrey Ashmun, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

Family therapy or counseling can be used in addition to individual therapy. The goal is to improve relationships by communicating with each other and learning how to resolve conflicts. Families are systems and sometimes the only way to really address family issues or relationship issues is to be in counseling with each other to communicate and create solutions. There are times when the family may need to meet in subsets because of age but we are always considering the family system.

— Daria Mann, Marriage & Family Therapist in Denver, CO

The model I use to conceptualize treatment for families is the Satir Model. This model is greatly influenced by communications theory, and it espouses that family relationships consist of repetitive patterns of interactions. The model emphasizes family connection, communication, and emotional experiencing. It is an integrative, humanistic, experiential, here-and-now approach focusing on personal validation.

— Devona Stalnaker-Shofner, Licensed Professional Counselor

As a marriage and family therapist, I was trained to see symptoms not only in relation to the individual, but also within the context surrounding the individual. Our family, school, work, neighborhood, community, and even cultural attitudes all have an impact on the individual and my work takes into account all of these factors.

— Jacqueline 'Jackie' Abeling, Marriage & Family Therapist in ,

I enjoy doing family work and supporting families in gaining more connection, understanding of each person's perspective and experience, and learning how to more effectively cope with conflict. Learning and understanding each other's triggers, reactions, and patterns can be highly informative and begin more empathetic processes and desired changes.

— Sonja Crisosto, Clinical Social Worker in Portland, OR

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, Marriage and Family Therapist Associate in Portland, OR

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

Family systems theory is the foundation of my education and training. For all clients, including individuals, I look for relational patterns that often inform the direction of therapy.

— Margaret  Certain, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Seattle, WA

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

I completed a two-year, post-graduate, certificate program in structural and multigenerational family therapy at the Center for Family Studies in New Jersey.

— Susan Cote, Clinical Social Worker in LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL

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

In my post-graduate work, I obtained a Couple and Family Therapy certificate. This education helps me to understand how our family can shape us and our reactions. Looking at the past for answers to now is a part of how I practice.

— Angie Gutekunst, Licensed Professional Counselor in Bethlehem, PA

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

Family therapy is the therapy that is the closest to my heart. I am fascinated by families and I always have been. It was the first therapy that I started practicing as a clinician, and the first graduate degree I obtained was from The University of Kentucky, an AAAMFT approved program. The complexity of the family system is such a thing to behold, even when in crisis.

— Paige L. Freeman, Ph.D., PLLC, Psychologist in Houston, TX

John Dunne wrote that no man is an island. And while I bristle that women aren't mentioned the quote, I firmly believe it's true about our mental health. We create systems with the people we interact with...their behavior influences ours...which influences theirs. Together, we can make changes in the system, reduce conflict, and increase happiness.

— LAKink Shrink, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in , CA

Family systems theory was the backbone of my master's program. In family systems theory, a family is an emotional system where each member of the family has a specific role and follows certain rules. Many rules are unspoken off but are known to the family members. What is your role in your family? How does it affect you in your life, as well as your everyday interactions with others?

— Chris Rabanera, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Caseville, MI