Psychology of the family as a system
Over the past 50 years, a systematic approach has been dominant in family counseling, which views the family as a system. This means that the family is considered as a whole unit. It consists of parts that are included in it. The objects of influence of the family are not those elements of which it consists, but the whole family as a whole. A family counselor helps the family as a whole.
The most common areas are systemic family counseling and systemic family therapy.
The theoretical basis of the system view of the family is the General theory of systems, which was developed in the 40s by Ludwig von Bertalamfi. He argued that most of the objects in the world around us are purposefully organized systems – an organizational view of the world. In the same way as systems, the individual and various social formations, including the family, function.
The postulates of this theory of systems:
The whole is greater than the sum of its constituent parts. The system is described by the component parts of which it is composed. A family does not consist of a mother, father, and child. All these elements are present, but the family as a system is something more.
All elements and processes that occur within the family mutually influence and condition each other. Accordingly, changes that occur in a single element of the system can cause changes in other parts of the system or in the system as a whole. By influencing the child, you can cause changes in all other members of the family.
From the point of view of system theory, a family is an open system. Closed systems are those that operate autonomously. Open – which need to exchange with the environment for their life activity. You need to give something to the environment and take something from it. In order for a family to survive, it exists in society and it must interact with elements of society. If this is not the case, the system begins to miss something. Family functions may be disrupted.
In addition, the family is a self-organizing system. This means that the family as a system is built on the principle of expediency and all the behavior of the family is appropriate. The source of the transformation is within the family itself. If there is a goal in the family, it determines the entire life activity of the family as a system.
The family is also the primary system in relation to each element included in it. This means that the regularity by which a family exists may differ and not correspond to the regularities by which its elements – family members-exist. What happens in the family often does not depend on the intentions of people but is regulated by the properties of the system as such. Parents want good things in the upbringing of children, but in fact it turns out different. The intentions and actions of people in the system are secondary (the family is primary) and are subject to the rule of functioning of systems. The family is primary and is located above the elements of its components. This provision is practical. A psychologist can devote a lot of time to the desires and intentions of one element of the system, but he does not understand anything about why there are problems in this system.
If the environment tries to affect the family, it must take into account its functioning as a system. The main principle is indirect influence. This means that the family as a system has more elements of which it consists, and it also has more of a psychologist who wants to change something in it (the psychologist). The effect on one of the elements will receive a counteraction aimed at reducing the action of the psychologist. Drug addiction is a problem of the system, not of the individual. Non-markoman for the family is an anomaly and the system is trying to restore the old status.
Therefore, all interventions that people use to help are mediated. Freud (the case of little Hans) was the first to describe it. Communicating with one family member to help another. The aggressiveness of the child may disappear not by direct influence on the child, but by influence on the parents. Working with children under 4 years of age is not advisable. Therefore, a more appropriate environment for exposure is an indirect method of exposure.
A family is a system related to others also in the longitudinal section. The wife’s family systems interact with the husband’s family system, so many patterns in the new family are not reinvented, but come to us from past systems. Therefore, it is important to know the technique of genograms. Reminds geneologicheskoe tree. With the help of genograms, it is possible to record and describe the nature of people’s relationships in generations and identify the main stereotypes in relationships that are transmitted and reproduced in generations. They have the character of transmitting stereotypes by reproducing the stereotypes of parent families by the family. For example, the transfer of the stereotype of alcoholism. Some unresolved problems in the parent family, as some form of behavior will be reproduced in the next family. For example, a mother and son had a chronic conflict. The mother did not like her son. The son did not receive something from his mother. Their relationship became complicated and he left the family to start a new family. He creates it, but in the relationship with his wife, he reproduces the same conflict that was with his mother.
Differentiation theory: if there is a vertical dysfunction (between generations), it will necessarily reproduce horizontally. Virginia Satir was the first psychologist who began to affect the entire family, not individually. Salvador Minukhin – psychology of the family. He studied the structure of the family and found that the structure of relationships in the family seriously affects the life of the family and its activities. The dynamics of family life depends on the structure of relationships in the family. The coalition is the most important element of the relationship. A coalition is an entity created within a system that, depending on their characters, can either contribute to the development of the family or lead to its dysfunction. Regularity: vertical coalitions in the family are dysfunctional, horizontal coalitions are functional. The coalition of mother and grandmother against her husband, the phenomenon of mother-in-law, etc., is dysfunctional.
In many families, the structure of relationships is broken so that some elements of the systems are close, and others are further away. Rapprochement tactics and re-creation of the marital coalition.
There are 2 basic laws that the family as a system obeys:
The law of homeostasis
Law of development
Both these laws exist and operate simultaneously
The law of homeostasis – any system seeks to preserve the existing situation in any way. Moreover, this law applies to both functional families and dysfunctional families. The situation in the family is painful, but it seeks to maintain this position and makes it stable. Any change can be difficult for the family. She believes that change is worse than the current situation. The law of homeostasis makes it clear why problems can persist in the family for many years.
The law of development – any open system tends to develop and go its way from 0 to completion. The source of creative forces is laid within the family. At the family level, the law of development is manifested in the fact that the family as a system must live its life cycle, which is a sequential change of major events or stages.
Gregory Bateson proposed his classification of developmental stages:
1-stage of the monad-premarital stage. It is represented by the individual life of each of the people who will then create a family. A young person grows up, implements the rules of the parent family. Similar with the female part.
Stage 2-the dyad stage. The couple starts living together and faces problems. It must agree on the rules by which it will build its system. The law of development will be implemented if there is a distribution of responsibilities.
It is important to remember that there are rules that are easy-external rules of life and difficult rules that relate to poorly understood rules or rules related to self-esteem. For example, a situation where the husband works and the wife does not-the question is how she will get the finances or when the wife is faced with the rules of the husband’s family (celebrate birthdays violently according to the concepts of the wife and the opposite for the husband).
The distance between the two in the dyad is very close
Stage 3-triads, when a child appears. This makes the family structure more stable. On the other hand, the triad separates the spouses-distancing, due to greater attention to the child. They say that the appearance of a child is a symbolic divorce from her husband. The appearance of a child changes the functions, rights, and responsibilities of family members. We need to agree on the rules of a new life.
Stage 4-the square, the appearance of the 2nd child. A new family member pushes out the 1st child. Detronization syndrome-the younger dethrones the elder from the throne, depriving him of the powers of sole possession of the father and mother. Strong jealousy, envy and tension in families are generated. The older one is faced with a situation where the younger one doesn’t care and I don’t care. Here it is necessary to re-agree who educates whom and that the senior should not be forgotten, the distribution of forces and resources and come to new agreements.
The 5th stage of children’s exit to the outside world. It begins when a first-grader appears in the family. This is a serious stage, because the family as a system is checked for the effectiveness of the used rules of education. Regularity: if during the entire 1st grade the child gets to school copes with the requirements, it means that the family at this stage is functional. Conversely, if there are problems in the first class, this indicates that the family is dysfunctional. It is important to remember that the functionality or dysfunctionality of a family does not last the entire life cycle. It can be functional at the stage of the dyad and become dysfunctional at the background of the triad.