Cultural/Systemic Approaches Family Systems Theory Family Systems Theory Family systems theory is a body of knowledge that has arisen out of the observations of clinical & counseling psychologists as they work with individuals and their families. The theory suggests that individuals cannot be understood in isolation from one anotherвЂ” families are systems of interconnected and interdependent individuals, none of whom can be understood in isolation from the system What does it mean to say a family is a system? To understand this better, consider the example of a mobile. When you move any one piece of a mobile, all the other pieces move too! They do not exist in isolation from one another, and вЂњmovementвЂќ in any one part of the вЂњsystemвЂќ will affect all the rest of the parts of the system. Terms from Family Systems Theory that youвЂ™ll want to understand Family Roles Family Rules Homeostasis/Equilibrium Terms from Family Systems Theory that youвЂ™ll want to understand Family Roles--what is expected of each family member вЂ“ The most basic types of roles are вЂњfather,вЂќ вЂњmother,вЂќ вЂњaunt,вЂќ вЂњdaughter,вЂќ вЂњson,вЂќ вЂњgrandmother,вЂќ etc. What is expected from people in each of these roles? вЂ“ But there are also roles beyond this most basic level. For example, one person may be the вЂњclownвЂќ of the family. Another person may be the вЂњresponsible one.вЂќ One person may be the вЂњemotional one.вЂќ Another role might be вЂњcrazy uncle JoeвЂќ who everyone knows is going to act odd in his own unique way. There are a lot of different roles in families. Terms (cont.) FAMILY RULES Family Rules are rules about how the family operates; these rules are often unspoken. For exampleвЂ¦ When people are angry at each other, do they express this or keep it to themselves? How affectionate or emotional are family members expected or allowed to be with each other? How do decisions get made in the family? Who has input and who is expected to вЂњjust go alongвЂќ? How is the final decision made? Are there limits on вЂњhow muchвЂќ or in what ways kids can argue with their parents? How much are family members вЂњallowedвЂќ to talk to people outside the family about family problems? Families tend to develop patterns about these sorts of things (& other similar types of things). These patterns become вЂњunspoken rules.вЂќ Family members may see these things as вЂњjust the way it is,вЂќ but different families do these things differently from one another. Reflecting on Family Roles & Family Rules Take a minute to think about how you would answer the questions on the preceding slide with regard to your family! Terms (cont.) HOMEOSTASIS--EQUILIBRIUM Systems develop typical ways of being which are reliable and predictable. Family roles & family rules are examples of what I mean by вЂњtypical ways of being.вЂќ Whether these roles & rules are adaptive or not, there is a pull from the system NOT to CHANGEвЂ”but to continue functioning as things have always been. Think of the mobile. If you move one part, the other parts move. But if you let go of that one part, the whole вЂњsystemвЂќ (i.e., the parts of the mobile) will вЂњpull each otherвЂќ back to the way they were before that one part moved. This tendency of systems to keep doing things as theyвЂ™ve already been done is known as homeostasis or the systemвЂ™s equilibrium. Some examples of family patterns: Distancer-Pursuer Dyad Often the roles that various family members take on are related to one another. For example, consider the distancer-pursuer dyad (a dyad is just a group of two people). Sometimes in a relationship, there may be one person who seeks out closeness with the other person (the pursuer) while his/her partner (the distancer) wants more space or independence and pulls back from the relationship. This pattern might occur in the marital relationship but might also occur in the parent-child relationship. Outside the family, you might see this pattern in dating relationships or even in close friendships. Distancer-Pursuer Dyad & Circular Causality As you might imagine, as the distancer & pursuer act out their вЂњrolesвЂќ within the relationship, a cycle can develop. вЂ“ The pursuer pushes for closeness while the distancer pulls back. вЂ“ The pursuer then feels вЂњabandonedвЂќ and thus feels even more even more of a need for connection & so pushes even harder for connection. вЂ“ As a result, the distancer feels вЂњsmotheredвЂќ and pulls away even moreвЂ¦ вЂ“ вЂ¦and so on & so forthвЂ¦..a cycle! Distancer-Pursuer Dyad & Circular Causality One might ask: How do they get in the cycle? Who starts it? Family systems theory sees this question as like the question: вЂњWhat came first? The chicken or the egg?вЂќ Just as the вЂњchicken & the eggвЂќ question is impossible to answer, it may impossible to say whether the вЂњdistancerвЂќ or the вЂњpursuerвЂќ started it! But in the cycle, BOTH patterns cause the OTHER Family systems theorists refer to this concept as circular causality. Distancer-Pursuer Dyad & Circular Causality Circular causality refers to the fact that in family systems, each family memberвЂ™s behavior is caused by and causes the other family membersвЂ™ behaviors. They are each impacting the other, in a circular manner. Some examples of family patterns: Overfunctioner-Underfunctioner Dyad Another example of circular causality is the overfunctioner-underfunctioner dyad In the overfunctioner-underfunctioner dyad, one member of the couple (the overfunctioner) is very responsible. This person wants things to be planned out. In contrast, the other member of the couple (the underfunctioner) may be less responsible, more fun-loving, more spontaneous, etc. Imagine a married couple as they deal with finances in the family. The overfunctioner thinks that its important to budget and to stay within a budget. The underfunctioner thinks that sometimes you just have to be willing to splurge and enjoy! Some examples of family patterns: Overfunctioner-Underfunctioner Dyad The overfunctioner tends to see the underfunctioner as irresponsible and immature. The underfunctioner tends to see the overfunctioner as controlling & rigid. Just as we saw in the distancer-pursuer relationship, the more the overfunctioner overfunctions, the more the underfunctioner (in reaction) will tend to underfunction, AND VICE VERSA The causality is circular! Once the cycle has started, each personвЂ™s behavior contributes to the other personвЂ™s behavior. Circular causality The distancer-pursuer and overfunctionerunderfunctioner are just two examples of the sorts of circular patterns that can develop in families. There are many other possibilities. A good clue to a вЂњcircularвЂќ pattern is when people tend to respond in predictable ways to each other, and their responses may become more extreme or even вЂњstubbornвЂќ over time. A Question to Ponder What вЂњcircularвЂќ patterns have you seen in your own family or other relationships? Homeostasis & Equilibrium Remember that we talked about how вЂњsystemsвЂќ are resistant to change? According to systems theory, this is true EVEN IF the change might seem to be a desirable one! For example, if the вЂњdistancerвЂќ within a relationship tries to work at taking the initiative to seek out connection within the relationship, the вЂњpursuerвЂќ may --in perhaps unintended, subconscious ways---sabotage the distancerвЂ™s attempts to change. Family Systems & The CulturalSystemic Approach In conclusion, the Family Systems approach suggests that sometimes our behavior may have AS MUCH TO DO with the вЂњsystemsвЂќ (groups) of which we are a partвЂ”and the patterns that get established within these systems-- as it may have to do with the personality of each person within the system. This is a very different explanation to what shapes human behavior than many of the other perspectives we have looked at in class thus far. Applying what youвЂ™ve learned! RememberвЂ¦.to take the Jenzabar quiz before class on Wednesday Oct. 12!