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.

Meet the specialists

Family systems is all about treating the WHOLE person. It takes into account our intra-psychic world (how we think and feel within ourselves, inter-personal relationships (how we interact between ourselves and other people), and our environment (how we navigate society and culture) to better understand both our aspirational self as well as our unhealthy self. This holistic perspective helps us understand the context in order to collaboratively create effective interventions.

— Timothy Yen, Clinical Psychologist in Dublin, CA

The family system includes more than just parents and children--our family system is our friends, our extended family, and our community. In family systems therapy, the therapist considers the roles and patterns of the client, in relation to his or her family. Family systems therapy is mostly commonly used with children and teens, since the family has the most influence on these age groups.

— Lilyan Moore, Counselor in Portland, OR

My entire graduate program focused on family systems theories and it just makes sense to me. We don't exist in a vacuum and the many systems around us do impact our thoughts, behaviors and choices. Systems includes your family of origin, workplace, school, extended family etc.

— Hollie Bearden, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Kihei, HI

Systems thinking, including but not limited to how a family is a system, is at the root of my training. I use systems think at all levels (internal, couple, family, groups (such as at work) and societal as the basis within which I approach my work with clients as a marriage and family therapist and then use techniques from other orientations that I have been trained in to work towards desired outcomes.

— Christopher Smith, Pastoral Counselor in Harrison, NY

My Masters degree was based in Family of Origin theory now called Family Systems. This work deepened my connection to the pain I felt in my own family and helped my healing. I am a strong proponent of individuation (Bowenian Therapy) which strengthens our own self in relation to our family. The Bowenian approach builds our internal ability to self-sooth, self-confront and have more fulfilling relationships.

— Julene Weaver, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA

The primary focus of my studies in marriage and family were centered around systems. It is something I have spent a great deal of time studying and utilize it to understand and identify problematic interactions clients are having in their lives.

— Carrissa Michael, Licensed Professional Counselor in Shelby Township, MI

Everyone plays a role in their family. When the family unit gets upset and roles are inadequate or inappropriate family systems is the best approach to reset the family unit.

— Cynthia Cruz, Counselor in Chicago, IL

Remember the mobile that you had hanging over your bed when you were little? Or perhaps the one hanging over your own baby's bed right now? That's how families work, like a mobile. When you touch one part of that mobile, all the other parts start to move. And that's how families work. One person's behavior affects all the other people in the system, and the relationships between family members affect all the other family members. As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I help people understand their own family system, both the one in which they live now and the one in which they grew up. Understanding how families work can help us map out patterns that might not work so well, so we can make changes to them to help things get better. It is comforting to know what kinds of things motivate our behavior, because that gives us the power to change them.

— Diana Walla, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in West Lake Hills, TX

I work from a Bowen family systems perspective seeing each client as part of a bigger emotional process than just themselves. Bringing to light the natural processes that we play a part in and our on contributions to symptoms in our lives provides a road map for maturing and growing ourselves in objective and thoughtful ways as individuals, as parents, as coworkers, as spouses, etc.

— Ellie Rogers, Licensed Professional Counselor in Round Rock, TX

We are all connected and healing happens through a dissection of adverse experiences at the micro and macro level. Understanding joys and sorrows as they relate to systems is a large part of the healing process.

— Heather Alesch, Psychologist in Nashville, TN

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'm experienced in a variety of theoretical models including psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, family systems, and person-centered/existential models of change. This allows me to assess and treat each client as a whole, utilizing the best combination of therapeutic orientations for his or her needs.

— Mary Gay, Licensed Professional Counselor in Roswell, GA

My Master's Degree was awarded in Family Therapy. During my education, all courses were taught under the theoretical perspective of systems theory. I work from an orientation of context and relationship, quoting "all behavior makes sense in context".

— Lauren Puleo, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Boca Raton, FL

I love the learning about self that observing family system dynamics can provide. We all learn what we know from somewhere. I enjoy walking with my clients as they discover what patterns have been learned and what values and behaviors they want to invest in and continue to practice.

— Bethany Schaefer, LPC Intern Supervised by Leah McDill, LPC-S, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Round Rock, TX

In 2006 I started using a now-nationally recognized evidenced based treatment model called Family Centered Treatment, which uses principles from Eco Structural Family Therapy and Emotionally Focused Therapy practices. I became certified, first as a provider of Family Centered Treatment, then later as a Trainer, Supervisor, and Master Trainer within the model. I no longer specifically deliver the evidence-based model, my therapeutic approach continues to be rooted in this theoretical framework.

— Cindy Lemberg, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Indian Trail, NC

I believe that none of us exists in a vacuum. Therefore, none of our struggles exists on its own either. I enjoy helping others see how systems help create and reinforce patterns, as well as what we can do to change those dynamics. I have been trained in both Bowenian and structural family therapy and have used both extensively in my work.

— Carol Schwerha, Clinical Psychologist in Hinsdale, IL