Family Systems Therapy: Making Sense of Your Family History

Family Systems Therapy

Family Systems Therapy is a therapeutic model that examines how family members interact with one another. It focuses on how each person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors influence other family members. Some therapists work with families to help them understand how they are in the family and what they can do. This is useful for when people want to change or heal old hurts.

What Is Family Systems Therapy?

Family education

Dr. Murray Bowen, a doctor who helped many people, developed a therapy called Family Systems Therapy in 1955. He said that families have their language and ways of talking to one another. He thought this helped create individual personalities within the family unit. Family members tend to respond to each other using roles such as caretaker or scapegoat, but they may not understand why these behavior patterns exist.

This is because family members tend to become like each other. They repeat what they experienced as a child, and this can cause problems. Bowen believed that we should take care of ourselves first before trying to help others understand the dynamics within their family system. He thought that working on yourself would make it easier for you to deal with your family issues. You can then help your family members through this by using the same tools you used to help yourself.

Bowen believed that we all have a need for belonging and connection, but some feel like they cannot be themselves within their families. These people tend to become more independent and may leave home early or not want to go back at all. They may also act out in destructive ways.

Goals Of Family Systems TherapySet personal goals for yourself

There are five main goals of Family Systems Therapy:

  1. Increase family communication and understanding: This goal is usually met by helping family members understand their roles and how they interact with one another.
  2. Help dysfunctional families function more effectively: This goal may be met by teaching family members new skills or changing the way they communicate with each other.
  3. Prevent children from developing emotional problems: This goal is usually accomplished by identifying and treating any emotional problems within a child to prevent them from developing into a disorder later.
  4. Heal family members who have emotional problems: This may be met by treating one or more of the affected individuals and improving their interpersonal relationships with other family members.
  5. Improve individual functioning within the family system: Bowen believed that this was the goal of Family Systems Therapy. He thought it could also help family members understand themselves better and improve their relationships with other people outside of the family system.

Approaches In Family Systems Therapy

approach of family systems therapy

There are three main approaches in Family Systems Therapy:

The Structural Approach

This approach looks at the structure of the family and how it affects its functioning. Therapists will often look at family roles, rules, and boundaries. They may also look at how family members are connected.

The Interactional Approach

This approach looks at the interactions between family members to understand how they function together. Therapists will often focus on communication, emotional reactions, and problem-solving skills when using this method of therapy with a family. They might use Bowen’s theory about differentiation of self. This is when people are afraid that other people in their family will hurt their feelings if they talk to them.

The Intrapsychic Approach

Intrapsychic means focusing on thoughts inside people. It is important to look at the person’s ideas and not just what is happening outside of them, like with their family. This is a very individualized approach to therapy that is used with only one person within a family system. It may be used when someone has problems in their brain, but these problems don’t affect how they act with other people.

The Behavioral Approach

This approach looks at how family members behave towards each other. Therapists will often focus on teaching family members new skills to help them interact more effectively.

Core Principles Of Family Systems Therapy

Core Principles Of Family Systems Therapy

There are several core principles for therapists to follow when using Family Systems Therapy.

  • A family is a unit, and it functions as one system: Therapists will view the family’s interactions within itself in this way. Members of a family cannot separate from each other because what happens to one member will affect all the others too.
  • Family problems arise out of their internal dynamics rather than outside stressors like poverty or unemployment: Therapists think that families have problems because they create them themselves. They believe that families have problems before they get any help from outside forces. It can also impact how they function together even if there aren’t any issues related to things like financial status or disability either.
  • Unconscious factors are just as important to understand as conscious ones: Therapists believe that everything someone thinks or feels will affect how they behave. Sometimes people can’t remember what they think and feel because it is from a long time ago. Learning about the unconscious aspects of families can help therapists provide better treatment for their clients.
  • Therapy should be non-authoritarian: Family members who come to see a therapist do not have to worry about the therapist being in charge. The therapist just wants to help. The therapist’s job is to help people talk to each other. They are not there to blame anyone else. Instead, they help people talk about what needs improvement.
  • The family is always the client, not just individual members: This means that therapists will help the whole family by teaching them how to work together and what each person does. The psychologist will also ask how the family has changed.

Evidence On Family Systems Therapy

There is a good deal of evidence that supports the use of Family Systems Therapy. Studies have found that help is good for families who are struggling with addiction, mental illnesses, communication issues, and more.

  • According to a study, family systems therapy is effective for adolescents who have alcohol abuse issues and their parents.
  • A study showed that when family members help people with emotional problems, it helps reduce their symptoms.
  • Studies on Family Systems Therapy show that there is strong evidence to support its use in various clinical settings.
  • Families often find that they are happy with the results of family systems therapy.

Limitations Of Family Systems Therapy

There are a few limitations to keep in mind when it comes to Family Systems Therapy.

  • The therapy relies heavily on the therapist’s observations and interpretations, which can be subjective: This means that different therapists may see things differently based on their own biases.
  • Family systems therapy is time-consuming and expensive: It takes a lot of time for family members to talk about all their problems and share their feelings. The cost of therapy can also add up over time.
  • Not everyone is interested in or capable of participating in family systems therapy: Some people may not feel comfortable talking about their problems with others or they may not be able to because they live too far away. Also, some family members may not want to participate in the therapy.

Despite these limitations, family systems therapy is a powerful tool that can help families resolve their issues. Every family is different and will require a different approach from the therapist. With patience and dedication, therapists can help families get back on track and improve their relationships with each other.

Role Of A Therapist

How To Find Right Therapist

The therapist’s role in family systems therapy is to help the family members communicate with each other. They do this by asking questions and helping them explore their feelings. The therapist also helps the family understand how they have changed over time.

Family systems therapists should be non-authoritarian, which means that they are not in charge of the therapy session. They just want to help families talk to each other. Therapists should also be aware of their own biases so that they can avoid imposing their views on the family.

It is important for therapists working with families to have a good understanding of the unconscious mind and how it affects behavior. This will allow them to better help families resolve their issues.

Therapists who specialize in family systems therapy are effective at helping families communicate with each other and improve their relationships.

Family members find that they benefit from family systems therapy. It helps them better understand themselves and their loved ones. They also learn how to relate to one another in a better way.

Family Systems Therapy also helps people look for ways to heal old wounds. This can be done by looking at past mistakes or misunderstandings. It gives them hope for the future because they are able to heal these wounds.


The idea behind Family Systems Therapy is that the way a family relates to one another will affect all members of the family. This therapy can be used for all kinds of problems including alcoholism, depression, and abuse. It’s important to understand how your relationships with others are affecting you if you want to solve these issues in your life.

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