Family System - Free Essay with a Case Study

Published: 2022-06-06
Family System - Free Essay with a Case Study
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Family Counseling Interpersonal communication
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1454 words
13 min read

When people intermingle, they get tangled in a creative process. All interactions are therefore viewed as exclusive to a certain degree although it might casually seem to be similar to other associations such as family relations. Families are being viewed as systems. A family operates as a system because it is a unit in which all members have a unique and critical obligation within the structure. Therefore, it is not possible for a one family member to change without his/her behaviors impacting modifications all through the family system. This essay explains the objective and observational analysis of family system concepts in a case narrative.

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After joining campus, Tom got himself involved in a bad group of friends and partying, drinking alcohol, and smoking was their norm. His father came to know of Tom's undesired behavior and confronting him led to a fierce argument which brought his mother's attention to the conversation. Every time Tom comes home late at night and drunk, and the same confrontation escalates until his mother comes in to intervene (Circularities). Every individual is perceived to have an impact on others, and their reactions also affect them, which influences the initial individual's responses and goes on circulating in every involved party (Titelman, 2014). This family's behavior seems to be repetitive, and hence predictions can be made on how members could cooperate in diverse circumstances.

Triads, Triangulation, and Conflict Detouring

The rebellious Tom is in triangulation with his supporting mother and an unsuccessfully dictatorial father. The father is ever arguing with his son over his smoking and drinking habits in which both parents come in to disapprove Tom's behavior. Nevertheless, his mother breaks into this escalating conflict to side with him finding herself in a detouring conflict position, forcing the father to give up (Triad). Therapists noted that a person could engage in a behavior which in turn provokes someone else and starts a conflict (Dallos &Draper, 2010). An argument between two people is unstable, and a third person is required to bring peace thus forming a triad - a unit of three individuals. Similarly, when a wife and husband share their issues with another person who in turn officiates their communication, then the unit is no longer a couple but a triad. An individual in a detouring conflict situation gets involved in a dual relationship although their contribution may as well as helping to prevent resolutions of their main conflicts and problems.

Rules, pattern, and process

Tom's parents have brought up their children under strict rules that they tend to follow the same pattern in their daily activities from spreading the bed and taking a shower right after waking up to going to bed at the same time. Tom, on the other hand, is the only child who tends to skip all these processes and does his things as he pleases. Almost all families hold explicit rules, like table manners, and children's bedtimes. In certain families, when for instance the mother disciplines a child for violating family rules, the other parent acts as if he also supports the disciplinary action but slightly sides with the child (Titelman, 2014).


Having two teenagers in the house, Tom's mother has had to learn how to handle their changing behaviors and adjust some rules and methods of addressing the various challenges presented by each child by offering guidance (Feedback). The idea of feedback, as used in family systems, summarizes the notion of reflexivity - a system can reflect or monitor its actions (Dallos & Draper, 2010). In humans, a system holds the perception of evaluating the desires of a specific relationship or situation and adapting to changes. Since individuals in a relationship have a capability of reflexivity, it is not evident that the best healthy, functional, or effective progression of the deed is pursued. Reflexivity holds its grounds on a set of underlying beliefs which we hold and hence can operate in a self-fulfilling manner so that conflicts are upheld or intensified.

Family Coordination through Communication

During dinner, the family seats at the dining table and each member has to give an account of their day as the parents have also encouraged freedom in speech, the children get to raise their issues freely and get to be addressed instantly (family coordination through communication). An assortment of family lives, ceremonies, rituals, and relationships are viewed as forms of communication generated and upheld through feedback. Family therapists tend to use this concept since certain information concerning the outcomes of behavior proceeds to change consequent habits (Crawford & Tarko, 2004). Instead of concentrating on how a single action or event leads to another, it is of importance to perceive humans as jointly creating forms of behaviors based on recurrent courses of modification.

Double-bind Concept

Tom's father gets to question himself on why his only son behaves this way yet he gets the best from both parents (double-bind concept). Relations progress over successive efforts to find the meaning of what is taking place. Sometimes individuals directly communicate concerning this by using expressions like, 'what does it imply?' A factor of the double-bind concept is that this form of meta-communication is prohibited, seemingly because of insensible worries of aggravating anxiety (Dallos & Draper, 2010).


Tom's parents denied that they disagree on any issues and keep on telling their close friends that there was no problem in the home - apart from the concerns on their son's misconduct. However, most of the time when asked about Tom's issues in detail, he shrugs his shoulders and changes the topic (Meta-communication). Meta-communication's reflexivity in an affair is viewed to be at higher levels and manages relationships (Crawford & Tarko, 2004). In a verbal statement, folks can express unity by claiming that they want their child to be self-reliant while at the same time contradict this by their actions or their way of passing this information to the child (i.e., covert and overt agreement).

Open and Closed Systems

Every encounter between a drunk Tom and his father leads to an intensified argument that goes to the extent of using rude and negative words (open System). However, when the mother intervenes, things seem to cool down since she gets to say the final word which neither Tom nor the father gets to challenge her (closed System). A closed system has firmer restrictions which are not easily traversed, while an open system has limits which permit a constant stream of information from and to the external surrounding (Titelman, 2014). Operating as an open system tolerates adjustments to modifications outside and within a system that is if the escalation did no big harm to the system. On the other hand, a closed system cannot adapt to new environmental deviations.

Family Homeostasis

The daily criticisms on Tom's habits by his father have led him to grow a personal perception of being unwanted in the family and have since seen Tom's siblings detaching from their elder brother leading to an increase in notable tension within the home (family homeostasis). A human body can maintain balance automatically, and this homeostatic propensity is also evident in family systems (Dallos & Draper, 2010). Trying to change an individual's symptoms or certain parts of the system can lead to resistance from other family members because a family operated as a complete body and struggled to preserve homeostasis.

Family Life Cycle

Tom's father has decided to send his son to a rehabilitation center. The mother is also anxious concerning her adolescent kids since she is afraid of them having to turn out like their brother and the fact that they will still be detached from her as they will be soon moving out (family life cycle). At times families can encounter huge demands for modifications and adjustments. These challenges can be due to alterations in the family unit such as remarriage and divorce, newborns, death, adolescences, and retirement among others (Dallos & Draper, 2010). The rise of family issues is commonly related to this transition in the cycle of life and the integral stressors.


Debatably, family system is a concept of constancy rather than development and change. The inclusion of another individual during a conflict can balance intensifying misunderstandings (open system) between two individuals. Such a monotonous activity can thus reserve constancy (closed system). No system, interaction, or behavior is always equal. A crucial issue for any family setting is how to uphold a form of identity and continue to change, adapt, advance and respond to stimuli.


Crawford, J., & Tarko, M. A. (2004). Family communication. Promoting health in families: Applying family research and theory to nursing practice.

Dallos, R., & Draper, R. (2010). An introduction to family therapy: Systemic theory and practice. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).

Titelman, P. (2014). Clinical applications of Bowen family systems theory. Routledge.

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