© 2016 by Paul DelGrosso, LICSW

FAMILY SYSTEMS THERAPY

The Family Systems approach to therapy views the family as an emotional unit in which the behavior and functioning of any one member cannot be viewed in isolation from the rest of the unit (and its other members). Only when each family member can own his or her part of the family problem can true progress be made. The work of therapy involves examining the impact of complex interlocking family relationships (including emotional triangles), managing one's emotional reactivity in charged relationships, and developing a stronger sense of self. 

Family Systems Theory is rooted in the pioneering work of psychiatrist Murray Bowen who devoted his professional life to developing a theory of human behavior that is consistent with the natural sciences.

The unique nature of the Family Systems approach is that it can begin with one motivated family member who works toward improving individual functioning. When sustained, these individual changes lead to changes throughout the family system. The more individual family members who become motivated to do "Systems" work, the greater and faster the impact on overall family functioning.

This approach to family therapy is quite different from other methods in that whatever configuration comes to therapy (whether it be a couple, parent-child, both parents and several children) each member is prompted to look at his or her role in maintaining the family problem and working toward a solution. The impulse to assign "blame" is redirected to "taking responsibility for one's part." 

The work often includes creating a family diagram that maps out multiple generations in order to foster greater objectivity about how family problems are transmitted over time through interlocking relationships and events (family process).

I completed four years of advanced clinical training in Family Systems Theory and Psychotherapy at The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in Georgetown.