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32 Cards in this Set

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  • Back
A concept from systems theory which describes the emergence of a system's organizational patterns which leads to knowledge about the system. This concept is the opposite of entropy.
A clinical method, developed by Ross Speck and Carolyn Atneave, in which resources throuhout and external to the family system are recruited and involved in the family therapy process to assist the family in working on the problem.
Network Therapy
An early psychodynamic theory which described the internalized images of one's self and others that are based on early parent-child interactions.
Object Relations
A term from general systems theory that refers to systems which are continuously open to the exchange of information from it's environment. Living systems are, by definition, open systems. As used by family therapists, the terms "open system" and "closed system" are metaphors referring to the extent to which a family is "open" to new information and, hence, susceptible to change.
Open Systems
A concept that defines the relative birth order position of each family member within one's sibling subsystem, e.g., oldest daughter, youngest son.
Ordinal Position
The relationship among the component of a system which are both necessary and sufficient for defining the nature and identity of the system.
These concepts from Family of Origin Therapy describe reciprocal roles within a family system. For example, an underfunctioning member may be dependent on a partner for caretaking or to assume responsibility for activities one is unable or unwilling to do.
Overfunctioning/Underfunctioning Positions
A clinical intervention where the family therapist offers a message to the family which is both internally inconsistent and contradictory. The multiple or contradictory meanings that are presented to a family have the intent of challenging rigid perceptions or perturbing and unbalancing the system.
A family system dynamic where a child is assigned a caretaking role for one or both parents, and often for the siblings, too. This designated child assumes excessive responsibility in a pseudo-adult role by emotionally and/or physically caring for either a weak parent or a vulnerable parental marriage.
A clinical intervention in which the family therapist acts upon the system to procuce a structural change or accomodation. The system must respond to and compensate for the intervention. This is often intended to unbalance the system in order to increase the potential for change.
A clinical intervention to reframe family behaviors so that they maintain a balance or cohesion within the system. The intervention is focused on attributing positive intentions to problematic sequences or roles, and reflects elements of the homeostatic pattern in the family.
Positive Connotation
A theoretical movement that emerged in the family therapy field in the 1970s and 1980s. The modernist approach has been criticized for ignoring issues such as gender, ethnicity, and the impact of larger systems, such as political and economic forces, on the family.
Postmodern Thinking
A complement to aesthetics, pragmatics refers to a reductionistic stance in which the focus in family therapy is on resolving the presenting problem while generally ignoring the larger gestalt in which the presenting problem exists.
A clinical intervention that takes the form of paradox and double bind. A therapist instructs a family member to enact a symptomatic behavior, which creates the expectation that an "involuntary" behavior will become voluntary.
Prescribing the Symptom
A concept from psychodynamic theory which defines a defensive mechanism in individuals. In family therapy it represents an interactional pattern in family systems in which aspects or parts of a member's personality that one feels are uncacceptbale are projected onto another member of the family.
Projective Identification
A family dynamic used as a defense for the system where hostility and conflict camouflage underlying dysfunctional elements.
An early clinical concept that described a family's presentation to the family therapist as an outward picture of intimacy and harmony which served to camouflage underlying conflicts and dysfunctions. Family therapist will recognize this as a form of resistance to one's attempts to join or intervene with the family system.
A concept that defines a family member's ability to influence or control circumstances and events. Such a role in a family is determined largely by the distribution of resources held by members of the system.
A concept from family systems theory which describes the repetitions, redundancies, and predictabilities of a family system that appear clinically in a sequence of actions and interactions among family members. This is often contrasted with the "content" or verbal information that is available from a family.
The family systems dynamic by which members perceive and mark distinction in their interactions with one another. Each partner believes that what she or he says was caused by what the other has said.
A contract between two individuals in which each gives to the other a certain favor or recognition and receives in turn a similar famor of relatively equal value. Family therapists often see these as a subtle rules within families that are the result of bargaining to protect sensitive issues or secrets.
Quid Pro Quo
A concept from family systems theory that describes interactions between family members where the behavior of one person "dovetails" or "fits" together with that of another in a complimentary fashion.
A concept from systems theory which describes the organizational closure that is attained by a system when circularity is achieved. For example, the disruptive behavior of an adolescent may trigger reciprocal behaviors in the other siblings, which then recursively loop back to trigger amplified or modified behaviors in the adolescent. The result is an organized, stable system.
Reciprocal Structural Coupling
A clinical intervention in family therapy that is employed both as a training method a consultation method. Reflecting teams are supervisors and/or colleagues who observe the live family therapy process.
Reflecting Team
A clinical intervention which challenges a family's perception of a symptom or conflict both by relabeling it and altering the context in which it is perceived.
A clinical intervention where symptoms are restated or redefined in interpersonal terms instead of with the focus of a symptom on an individual member. This intervention challenges the family's perception of the symptoms or behaviors.
A clinical intervention from Structural Family Therapy which describes interventions that are directed toward challenging and altering the family system's structure, e.g., strengthening the boundaries around the spousal subsystem.
A concept from family theory that describes images and/or positions with characteristic behaviors that are assigned to specific members to perform certain functions within a family system. They may represent normative positions such as a parent or a child, or dysfunctional positions such as a parentified child or a scapegoat.
A concept used as a metaphor to describe an unstable but continuous family boundary which may stretch to include supportive and positive influences and then may contract to exclude that which is perceived by the family as threatening.
Rubber Fence
A concept from systems theory describing a system which responds to positive feedback in such a way that dysfunctions and errors are reinforced and escalated, causing the system to be moved further "off-track."
A family system dynamic that describes the process by which a family designates a member to carry and act out the stress and dysfunction for other members or subsytems of the family.
A clinical intervention, adapted by Peggy Papp from psychodrama, in which a family member is asked to depict a view of the emotional closeness or distance among the members of a family system. A family therapist will ask the member to arrange (direct) family members physically in certain locations to represent their roles and alliances in the family.