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Flashcards in Family Therapies Deck (32)
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General Systems Theory

Defines a system as an entity that is maintained by the mutual interactions of its components and assumes that the actions of interacting components are best understood by studying them in their context



Described by mathematician and applied to family communication process. key feature is concept of the feedback loop through which a system receives information


Negative Feedback Loop

Reduces deviation and helps a system maintain the status quo


Positive Feedback Loop

Amplifies deviation or change and thereby disrupts the system; positive feedback promotes appropriate change in a dysfunctional family system


Double-bind communication

An etiological factor for schizophrenia; is an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, and one message negates the other.


Communication/interaction family therapy

focuses on the impact of communication on family and individual functioning; it distinguishes between two communication patterns: symmetrical communication and complementary communication


Symmetrical communication

occurs between equals but may escalate into a competitive one-upsmanship game in which each participant tries to outdo the other


Complementary communication

occurs between individuals who are unequal and emphasizes their differences; common complementary pattern is for one participant to assume the dominant role while the other is submissive


Communication/interaction Family Therapy-
View of Maladaptive Behavior

Accept a circular model of causality that regards a symptom as both a cause and effect of dysfunctional communication patterns, which include blaming and criticizing, mindreading, and overgeneralizing


Communication/interaction Family Therapy-
Goals and Techniques

Primary goal of therapy is to alter the interactional patterns that are maintaining the presenting symptoms. This is accomplished using direct techniques and paradoxical strategies


Extended Family Systems Therapy

Bowen; extends general systems theory beyond the nuclear family and describes the functioning of the extended family


Differentiation of self-

A person's ability to separate his or her intellectual and emotional functioning; the lower a person's level of differentiation, the more the person is at the mercy of his/her emotions and the more likely that he/she will become fused with the emotions that dominate the family


Emotional triangle

When a two-person system such as a husband-wife or parent-child experiences instability or stress, a third person may be recruited into the system to increase stability and reduce tension.


Extended Family Systems Therapy-
View of Maladaptive Behavior

behavioral disorders are a result of a multigenerational transmission process in which progressively lower levels of differentiation are transmitted from one generation to the next


Extended Family Systems Therapy

Primary goal is to increase the differentiation of all family members


Structural Family Therapy

Minuchin; emphasizes altering the family's structure in order to change the behavior patterns of family members



Barriers or rules that determine the amount of contact that is allowed between family members; when families are overly rigid, family members are disengaged (isolated) from one another; when boundaries are too diffuse or permeable, family members are enmeshed (overly dependent and close)


Rigid triads (Structural Family Therapy)- 1. Detouring

occurs when the parents focus on a child either by overprotecting or blaming (scapegoating) the child for the family's problems


Rigid triads (Structural Family Therapy)- 2. Stable Coalition

occurs when a parent and child form a cross-generational coalition and consistently "gang up" against the other parent


Rigid triads (Structural Family Therapy)- 3. Triangulation

occurs when each parent demands that the child side with him/her against the other parent; child is constantly being pulled in two directions


Structural Family Therapy-
View of Maladaptive Behavior

Family dysfunction is viewed as the result of an inflexible family structure that prohibits the family from adapting to maturational and situational stressors in a healthy way (ex. psychosomatic families-- enmeshment)


Structural Family Therapy:

Restructuring the family is the primary long term goal of therapy; may also address symptom relief and other short-term goals using techniques from other forms of therapy


Structural Family Therapy:

First task is to develop a therapeutic system by joining the family in a position of leadership; involves blending with the family and includes tracking (identifying and using the family's values, life themes, and significant life events in conversations) and mimesis (adopting the family's affective and communication style)


Strategic Family Therapy

paradoxical interventions; focuses on transactional patterns and views symptoms as interpersonal events that serve to control relationships; therapy focuses on symptom relief and interventions designed to alter the behavior of family members


Strategic Family Therapy: View of maladaptive behavior

emphasize the role of communication in maladaptive behaviors, especially how it is used to exert control in a relationship


Strategic Family Therapy: Therapy goals

Focus is on alleviating current symptoms by altering a family's transactions and organization, especially its hierarchies and generational boundaries


Paradoxical intervention

alters the behavior of family members by helping them see a symptom in an alternative way or recognize they have control over their behaviors or by using their resistance in a constructive way


Milan Systemic Family Therapy

based on the premise that, in a family system, there are circular patterns of action and reaction. Maladaptive behavior results when a family's patterns become so fixed that family members are no longer able to act creatively or to make new choices about their lives


Milan Systemic Family Therapy: Goals/Techniques

help family members see their choices and assist them in exercising their prerogative of choosing; uses therapeutic team; hypothesizing, neutrality, paradox, circular questions


Behavioral Family Therapy

based on the principles of operant conditioning, social learning theory, and social exchange theory; maladaptive behavior is learned and maintained by its antecedents and consequences