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Family Systems Therapy: From Theory to Practice

2021-03-02 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Essay范文

51Due教员组今天给各位留学生带来一篇关于心理学代写范文,内容主要讲的是家庭系统疗法。摘要:家庭系统疗法源于Murray Bowen提出的家庭系统理论,该理论认为个体问题是家庭内部动态变化的结果。我对家庭系统疗法特别感兴趣,因为有一句话来自于默里·鲍恩(Murray Bowen),“在一段关系中创造的东西可以在一段关系中固定下来。”人类进化到依赖于家庭成员,因此许多问题可能来自家庭内部的关系。正如Murray Bowen所说,家庭是问题的主要来源。整个家庭被视为一个互动的单位,一个人的情感可能会在家庭成员之间传播。根据家庭系统疗法,个人和家庭都不应对不良的心理调节负责。相反,互动模式是整个家庭动态的原因(Sprenkle&Bischof,1994)。因此,关注家庭动态,让家庭成员一起解决他们的心理问题是至关重要的。

Family Systems Therapy: From Theory to Practice

Reasons for Selecting Family Systems Therapy

Family systems therapy stems from the family systems theory proposed by Murray Bowen, which claims that individual issues are the result of dynamic within the family. I am particularly interested in the family systems therapy because of a saying comes from Murray Bowen, “That which is created in a relationship can be fixed in a relationship.” Humans evolved to be interdependent on family members and so many issues may come from a relationship within the family. As Murray Bowen says, the family was the primary source of issues. The entire family is viewed as an interactional unit and the emotional feeling one person has may spread among family members. According to the family systems therapy, neither the individual nor the family should be responsible for poor psychological adjustment. Instead, the interactional patterns are the cause of the whole dynamic within the family (Sprenkle & Bischof, 1994). Thus, it is critical to concentrate on the family dynamic and put family members together to work with their mental problems.

Family experiences have significant influences on how we function and lead to our life. Experiences from family might cause harm to our well-being, such as internalizing and externalizing problems. However, families can also provide us with safety, belonging, and support. It is useful to consider our family of origin and family members we work with when we try to figure our mental issues out. It is critical to realize that difficult experiences can result in particular strengths and coping capacities.

In the context of family units, family members are intensely connected and how they interact with each other to create a healthy family dynamic. The principle of family systems therapy is that “what happens to one member of the family, happens to everyone in the family”(Candib, 1990). Poor emotions such as anxiety and depression may spread from one family member to another and consequently have an impact on relationships, which may lead to more serious problems over time (Slesnick & Zhang, 2016). From this perspective, behavioral patterns among each family members can result in poor psychological adjustment for each family members even when they are separated from family context. Thus, family context is usually where the issues begin.

Considering that changes one family member’s behavior may incline to have an impact on how the family functions over time, family systems therapy lays emphasis on the family relationship. The goal of the family systems therapy is to restore family relationships and rebuild a healthy family system via a way of each family member working together and making efforts to understand how their individual actions impact each other. In addition, family systems therapy is also dedicated to reducing symptoms of individuals’ dysfunction and help change family structural through developing appropriate psychological boundaries among family members, as well as generating a constructive hierarchical structure.

How To Do Family Systems Therapy

A family therapist always meets family members at the same time. During family systems therapy, the family works together and each family member has the chance to voice their opinions and feelings. Any troubles or conflicts that they are struggling with can be discussed in the family systems therapy. The family therapy interventions emphasize family relationship patters rather than on inspecting individual and historical factor (Booth & Cottone, 2000). The family is viewed as a whole and works together to help the individual relive the strain. The therapist is viewed as a collaborator to seek to join the family and assist the family to understand their family dynamics by assessing interactions during the entire family. Each session of family systems therapy usually lasts around 1.5 to 2 hours. The timeline for family therapy is preferred to be less than two sessions once a week, which allow individual to have enough time to practice new behaviors. The total sessions for family therapy could be 6 to 10 varying on the goals of the intervention.

Take opening session for an example, the therapist first ask each family member same open-ended questions such as “How did you get here?”, “Why you come here?”, “What you would like to see happen here?”. A typical opening session also includes telling the family how the therapeutic process would function well and get the expected effects. After the therapist gathers necessary information and allows each family member to express their opinions, the therapist provides feedback to the family and clarifies each family members’ motivation and purpose. Then, the therapist may conclude with the assignment of tasks combining with the family’s needs.

How Family Systems Therapy Bring About Change in the Individual

In regards to the family systems theory, family functions as a system where each family member plays a particular role and are expected to act in a certain way during interactions with others. By generating change in relationships, an individual’s internalizing and externalizing problems might be addressed over time (Healy, & Allen, 2019). Further, in the process of family therapy, individuals have more opportunities to understand their emotions and behaviors through their family members’ perspectives as well as their own introspection. Gradually, an individual’s strength might be elicited and characteristics may be reformed during family therapy. Family members see their changes and may provide positive feedback to them, which in turn enhances their positive behavioral patterns.

According to the other therapy theory, intra-psychic conflicts within the individual were responsible for their emotional and behavioral problems. However, family systems theory holds that the individual’s psychological problems stem from the family, especially the interactions and relationship within the family. Although family therapy’s main focus is not on the individual’s inner psychological experience, its orientation towards the individual’s internal dynamics. it helps the individual to forge a different role in the therapy which promotes self-understanding through the relationship with the therapist or other family members (Fowers & Richardson, 1996). Individualism, family ideology and family therapy. Theory &. Individuals can understand themselves better through assessing the interactions within an entire family. The family systems therapy go beyond clients’ request for relieving symptoms. It considers the individual’s family of origin have an important impact on their life experience. Family of origin is a core concept in the family of origin, which is defined as significant caretakers that the individual grows up with (Sabatelli, & Bartle-Haring, 2003). Family of origin is usually an individual’s biological family where they spend most of the time during childhood. Family systems therapy maintains that family of origin influence the way we interact with others and cope in daily life. By considering one’s family of origin, family systems therapy not only addresses the specific conflict that happened to the individuals and their family members, but also helps clients to learn ways to understand themselves.

 Many family systems therapies believe that changes in family interaction through underlying love and care can lead to new and improved interaction patterns(Haddock, Weiler, Trump, & Henry, 2017). That is, individuals can learn how to interact with others and deal with a new relationship through family therapy. In particular, when individuals have some problems in peer stress or encounter stressful situations, they can tackle these challenges and threats by employing the appropriate ways that learn from family therapy.

Critique of Family Systems Therapy

The family systems therapy emphasize the individuals’ personal life should be put into the whole family and the outcomes of their adjustment such as internalizing and externalizing adjustment should be considered with the family system. Systems-oriented family therapy considers all aspects of the family including the interactions among family members and relationship with each other. Family therapists gather all family members together and be a part of them to work together for finding out the problems. Each family member dedicated to solving problems and supporting each other which makes the entire family have more strength in face of the challenges as well as make the individual stronger. In addition, by examining family's ability to solve problems and express thoughts and emotions in a productive manner, and exploring family roles, rules and behavior patterns, family systems therapy is better at identifying issues that contribute to conflicts.

Due to the unique characteristic of the process of family therapy, which is that each family members gather together and express their thoughts and feelings, the individuals can benefit from the family systems therapy through learning other family members’ inner thought and rebuild a better relationship. Family systems therapy has been shown to be effective in helping individuals develop better control their emotions and cope with stress effectively. Moreover, family systems therapy is considered an effective approach because it facilitates individuals to explore their roles within the family and learn how to switch roles to understand the family dynamic. The distinctive feature is that the form of family therapy in which the therapist meet family members at the same time mirrors habitual interaction patterns at home and makes family members perceive mutual relations in the session. Another strength of family therapy is that it focuses on the analytical framework instead of the number of people present at a therapy session. Specifically, they are inclined to be interested in relationships with others in the family system and be more interested in solving problems instead of identifying a single cause. Using this perspective, families are able to find patterns of behavior with the help of the therapist. The most distinctive aspect of family therapy is its depth of evaluation of family dynamics, The family therapy focuses on individuals' differentiation within the family system and pays attention to the interaction between therapists and clients. These interactions are expected to be applied to an individual’s personal life and have an impact on their behavioral patterns.

One of the core aspects of the family system theory is called differentiation. Differentiation is characterized by that the extent how the individual has the capacity to separate their emotions from family members when they are apart away from the family. Well-differentiated capacity can enable individuals to have close relationships. In contrast, individuals who are not differentiated from their family members might emotionally rely on others for their sense of well-being. By laying emphasis on differentiation, family systems therapy help individuals to understand family experiences, and be more objective in the understandings of relationship to other families Thus, they can think independently and enable to cope with stress well by themselves.

However, there are some limitations of family systems therapy to be concerned. First, the therapist may keep a neutral position even when clients are doing some terrible things to themselves or others (Wall, Needham, Browning, & James, 1999). They may keep silent and tolerate violence, infidelity, and substance abuse, which would lead to serious problems. Second, the wider focus of family system therapy can be a weakness because clients may want only to address symptom relief. Because symptoms are considered as an expression of a dysfunction within a family, and these symptomatic patterns may probably hand down across generations over time, the family therapists put much emphasis on resolving such kind of problematic behaviors which reflect the family’s inability to function appropriately. However, for the therapist who uses family system therapy, symptom reduction is seen only as of the basic work of the whole process. Hence, the difference of goals between therapist’ and clients’ may slow down the progress of therapy. Another criticism is that Bowen's therapy pays much attention to be rational and objective, which loses sight of the expression of emotions in therapy. While family theory also holds that it is necessary to assist the client to understand emotional processes existed in the family, it still relegates emotion expression to a less important position.

Last, from a cultural perspective, family systems therapy may not pay much attention to culture differences. For instance, although the process of differentiation occurs in most cultural contexts, it may demonstrate different forms or shape in a different way due to cultural forms heterogeneity. In addition, the western family therapy models may not be suitable for other cultural contexts, such as Chinese culture where only-child policy is popular and sometimes the grandmother generations also play a role in the nuclear family, which is different form family structure in the Western culture. Therefore, it should be careful when practicing family systems therapy into different cultural contexts.

 

References

Booth, T. J., & Cottone, R. (2000). Measurement, Classification, and Prediction of Paradigm Adherence of Marriage and Family Therapists. American Journal of Family Therapy, 28(4), 329–346. https://doi.org/10.1080/019261800437892

Candib, L. (1990). Review of The family interpreted: Feminist theory in clinical practice. Family Systems Medicine, 8(1), 99–104. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0089358

Fowers, B. J., & Richardson, F. C. (1996). Individualism, family ideology and family therapy. Theory & Psychology, 6(1), 121–151. https://doi.org/10.1177/0959354396061009

Haddock, S. A., Weiler, L. M., Trump, L. J., & Henry, K. L. (2017). The efficacy of internal family systems therapy in the treatment of depression among female college students: A pilot study. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 43(1), 131–144. https://doi.org/10.1111/jmft.12184

Healy, R. W., & Allen, L. R. (2019). Bowen family systems therapy with transgender minors: A case study. Clinical Social Work Journal. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10615-019-00704-4

Sabatelli, R. M., & Bartle-Haring, S. (2003). Family-of-origin experiences and adjustment in married couples. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65(1), 159–169. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2003.00159.x

Sprenkle, D. H., & Bischof, G. P. (1994). Contemporary family therapy in the United States. Journal of Family Therapy, 16(1), 5–23. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6427.1994.00773.x

Slesnick, N., & Zhang, J. (2016). Family systems therapy for substance-using mothers and their 8- to 16-year-old children. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30(6), 619–629. https://doi.org/10.1037/adb0000199

Wall, J., Needham, T., Browning, D. S., & James, S. (1999). The ethics of relationality: The moral views of therapists engaged in marital and family therapy. Family Relations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies, 48(2), 139–149. https://doi.org/10.2307/585077

 

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