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

As a systems based therapist I see clients from an ecological perspective. Individuals are seen as part of a system of interactions and relations to others in their environment, rather than individuals being autonomous entities independent of their surroundings and context. By addressing breakdowns within a system and the relations and communications within its contextual setting, problems can be addressed in a greater holistic manner.

— Dan Schmitt, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Intern in Eugene, 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

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 use my training in Family Systems to conceptualize presenting problems you may have in a relational way, rather than approaching one person as the "identified patient" thought to be the one with the mental disorder. When a problem is viewed as relational rather than as one person's "fault", we can discover new ways of healing such as identifying intergenerational trauma, creating better boundaries, learning communication skills, and cultivating more honesty, safety and ease in relationships.

— Grace Norberg, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Oak Park, IL

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
 

No matter where we come from, all family systems are complex. Our original families play a big part in our current families. Or maybe we are having a hard time creating the partnership or family we want now because of what we have been through in life. Exploring the historical components that impact our relationships is key to increasing our healthy functioning.

— Tracy Bryce Farmer, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Portland, OR

I will work with the client to see how their families connect within their cultural context.

— Sheena Shukla, Social Worker in ,
 

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

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 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

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 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 Bensalem, PA

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
 

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, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Intern in Portland, OR

A guy goes to a therapist and says, "please help me, my brother thinks he's a chicken". The therapist says, "well, did you try telling him he's a human?" The guy says, "I would but we need the eggs." (Woody Allen)

— Ari Hoffman, Counselor in Denver, CO
 

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 ,

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