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We will review systems theory as it relates to the family. We will also take a brief look at Genograms.

Kirk Stewart

on 16 January 2013

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Families as Systems - Genograms SYSTEMS THEORY AND THE FAMILY GENOGRAM HOMEWORK Get into groups of 3
You are a team of Social Service Workers working with an organization that provides family care services for your local community.
You are tasked by your organization to identify any connections between the psychological functioning of the family you are tasked with by drawing a genogram.
Each group will submit one genogram Nuclear family – immediate members
Extended family – second and third level relationships
Blended families – families with previous primary relationships

All of these are systems themselves while forming part of larger systems LAYERS OF FAMILY Copyright © 2012 by Nelson Education Ltd. Microsystem – interactions of the child with other people in the immediate setting such as the home, school, or peer group

Mesosystem – interactions of various settings with the microsystem such as the parent-teacher conference or the school field trip to the zoo Bronfenbrenner’s Systems Approach Copyright © 2012 by Nelson Education Ltd. Exosystem – institutions which indirectly affect the development of the child such as the school board or the parent’s place of employment

Macrosystem – involves the interaction of the child with the beliefs, expectations, and lifestyle of their cultural setting

Chronosystem – refers to the influence that changes over time have on development Bronfenbrenner’s Systems Approach Copyright © 2012 by Nelson Education Ltd. Explains both micro and to some extent, macro factors
Views family as set of inter-related parts known as sub-systems
Two important aspects of theory are concept of “homeostasis”
and concept of “Circular Causality”

Strengths – Accounts for impact of one member on all other members
- Identifies repetitive patterns in families
- A helpful basis for family counseling

Weaknesses - Focus on system may lead to ignoring experience of individual
- Influence of external factors could be ignored
- May ignore role of power in the family

Excerpted from Ward, Margaret, The Family Dynamic- A Canadian Perspective, 2006 *SYSTEMS THEORY Homeostasis – see next power-point
Boundaries – the symbolic lines which demarcate sub-systems
Circular causality – the reciprocal pattern of being both initiator and responder
Family rules – the implicit and explicit expectations that guide a family’s behaviour
1st order change – changes in behaviour of one family member that does not endure
2nd order change – new perspectives that lead to deeper changes on part of whole family KEY CONCEPTS The concept of balance or equilibrium
May be positive or negative
Family always strives to regain balance
Suggests that when homeostasis is lost there is an opportunity either for change toward healthier solutions or for problems/dysfunction HOMEOSTASIS Events and interactions in families tend to become both cause and effect
Are in some ways positive mechanism for family functioning, but can become harmful/destructive CIRCULAR CAUSALITY
Everything is connected to everything else

Systems are made up of sub-systems

Individual problems often reflect a problem with a family and vice versa SOME THINGS TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT SYSTEMS THEORY Interactions are patterned, reciprocal and repetitive, becoming habitual

There is seldom such a thing as a single cause

Problems are often misguided solutions to previous problems

There are seldom totally good guys or totally bad guys Contd….
Generally, everyone is doing the best they can with the resources available to them

Problems can lead to growth and change

Boundaries are important in the functioning of systems and sub- systems

Changes in families throughout the life-cycle are a result of expected and unexpected or crisis experiences Contd…. 2 Similar to family trees, but include much more narrative information
Generally constructed over 3 generations
Helpful in understanding family relationships of both a biological and an emotional nature as well as transmitted values and ambitions
Offers links between family patterns etc and historical and sociological changes
Can be used to help prevent unhealthy relationships through understanding predisposing characteristics and patterns of transmission GENOGRAMS Peg Jan The following lines are drawn between the gender denoting shapes

Unusual closeness
Emotional distance (caused by ill feeling, inability or decision not to connect) -----------------

Jan won’t do anything without Peg SYMBOLS DENOTING EMOTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS http://www.genopro.com/genogram/examples/ (right click > Open hyperlink) Example genograms EXAMPLE GENOGRAM
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