Family Systems Theory Perspective

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The family presented to Dr. Phil is a blended family unit, complete with Dad and daughters, Shannon and Allison, and step mother Hillary and her daughter. Shannon and Allison’s biological mother passed away 6 years ago from breast cancer, leaving Dad and the girls. Fast forward a year, and Hillary started dating their dad and moved into the house. Hillary removed pictures of Shannon and Allison’s biological mother, causing a rift in the family. Shannon’s Dad and Hillary tricked her into going away to boarding school due to her diagnosis for narcissism and causing arguments in the house constantly. Shannon was not allowed to call home or see her family while she was away. During that time, Shannon’s father and Hillary got married and took family …show more content…
Shannon, seen as the identified patient by her family, feels as if she is the scapegoat of the family’s problems. While her Dad states that Shannon has good and bad days, he believes that she is an individual problem within the family unit.
The Family Systems Theory Perspective
Family Systems Theory would argue that in order to find the locus of pathology, one must look to the family rather than one individual. The family is “a unity of interacting personalities” (Smith & Hamon, 2012). In this case, the family communicates poorly, which keeps them from moving around in other dimensions such as cohesion and flexibility (Smith & Hamon, 2012). This idea is proven in that the family is disengaged, meaning that the members are insufficiently involved in each other’s lives (Smith & Hamon, 2012).
Family Systems Theory
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Shannon went to live with a family friend, Jennifer, and her husband for four months. During this time, Jennifer says that Shannon caused no problem, was a typical female teenager, and was lovely to spend time with. While living with Jennifer and her husband, she became part of a different family, with new roles, rules, and boundaries. Back home with Shannon’s family of origin, roles were set. Hillary’s role is implicit as the leader, making decisions and rules for the family unit (Smith & Hamon, 2012). The rules underwent transformation when Hillary moved in as well. They became dysfunctional. Keeping Shannon out of the family as an unspoken rule became redundant and part of the family rules. The boundaries of the family are open, easily allowing information to flow to outside systems, such as the on show on Dr. Phil and with Jennifer and her husband. The boundaries, however, are closed within the different subsystems in the family at home (Smith & Hamon, 2012). Each subsystem has different rules and tasks. For example, Hillary and the Dad have the unspoken rule of keeping Shannon out of family gatherings to keep the peace. Allison and Shannon, who are sisters, are a different subsystem. The feedback of a member from the system causes a reaction from another member within the family (Smith & Hamon, 2012). The feedback to Shannon from

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