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

The ability to understand an individual's placement within the context of their family of origin gives insight into the roles that they may or may not identify with in their current relationships. Focusing on the role of family relationships and history may help to identify relationship patterns that may or may not be healthy, and may give direction for the therapy process.

— Miriam Porat, Counselor in Madison, WI
 

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

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
 

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

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
 

My undergraduate degrees are in Human Development and Family Studies. This trained me well in systems theories of counseling. I have experience working with families as a "family based therapist." This is a specific, and intensive therapy where a 2-person therapeutic team travels, working with families in their communities. This is typically a last attempt before a child would be taken from the home. I have extensive training in "ecosystemic structural family therapy."

— Kevin Faust, Mental Health Counselor in Chambersburg, PA

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
 

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

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
 

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

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
 

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

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 ,