Systems Theory / Therapy

Systems Theory / Therapy

Systems psychology uses complex systems to explore behavior patterns and human experience. This integrated approach to therapy is based on the techniques of Gregory Bateson, Roger Barker, Ludwig Bertalanffy, Anatol Rapoport, Kenneth Boulding, William Ashby, and Margaret Mead. This method identifies individuals and groups as seeking homeostasis. Systems psychology is practiced within the realm of engineering psychology, but focuses on affective, motivational, cognitive, and group behavioral patterns. In order to facilitate an effective system for all parties involved, the expectations, needs, desires, and characters of all are examined and considered.

Systems Theory in Therapy

The goal of Systems Therapy is for a group to gain insight into each member’s role as it relates to the healthy functionality of the whole. Systems Therapy can be applied to organizations, couples, communities, or families. The technique relies on identifying specific behavior patterns and how each member responds to anxiety within the dynamic. By doing this, the individual participants can begin to understand and transform their patterns to more adaptive, productive behaviors.

Systems Therapy has evolved from a rather single dimensional form of treatment to a multi-faceted method that is applied to many different situations. It strives to help the members of the group attain positive, secure relationships in order to improve their well-being and inter-relational experiences. Many different conflicting situations and issues can be effectively treated with Systems Therapy.

This dynamic and widely recognized form of psychotherapy believes that the family or community is a vital component in its own recovery and to its psychological health. Families, couples, or members of an organization are directly involved in their own therapy in order to resolve the issue, even if it is one of an individual basis. One of the tools used in this type of therapy is communication. Dialogue is constructed in such a way as to facilitate the recognition and development of knowledge, strengths, and support for the entire entity.

Systems Theory and Therapy for Families

Family systems theory was developed by Dr. Murray Bowen as a way to allow each family member to work together to solve individual issues. Every family member is connected to each other through a system of overlapping and intertwining relationships that can only be deciphered when all members work as one. In family systems therapy, participants are prompted to express the roles they portray in their normal family life, but must maintain the structure of the therapy, respect one another and stay within the predetermined boundaries. During family systems therapy, family members act out their roles in such a way that the therapist and other family members are able to see the cause and effect of certain behaviors. Once these are recognized, the members can work to understand how their actions affect each other’s roles and begin to adopt positive behaviors that benefit themselves and the family as a whole.


Last updated: 10-24-2016

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