Family Systems

 Points to Ponder

1994 By Lewis N. Foster


Photo By Joe Lewis Studio


 1.  Usually, it's not what families don't know that causes problems, it's what they know that's not true.

 2.  The solution of one problem has a great deal to do with the solution of another problem.

 3.  Distrust always occurs in the environment of ignorance, and unawareness comes in all degrees.

 4.  If you want to see what this creature called the family system is really up to, you must do so only by carefully

 watching what it actually does, not what it says it does.

 5.  The essence of the family systems approach is confusion as well as enlightenment.  The two are inseparable aspects of

 human living.  Families live on a continuum vacillating between chaos and enlightenment.

 6.  The system creates some of its own potential.

 7.  When studying a family system, it is doubtful whether the study of the system is (or can be) a separable mission.

 8.  A family system is a set of parts coordinated to accomplish a set of goals.

 9.  Every family system is embedded in a larger system.

10.  There is deception in any approach to the system(s).

11.  When one is considering family systems, it's always wise to raise questions about the most obvious and simple assumptions.

12.  Family systems are made up of sets of components that work together for the overall objective of the whole.  The family systems approach is simply a way of thinking about these total systems and their components.

13.  The family systems approach will have to disturb typical mental processes and suggest some radical approaches to thinking.

14.  The ultimate meaning of the family systems approach lies in the creation of a theory of deception and in an understanding of the ways in which human beings and their families can be deceived about their world and in an interaction between these different viewpoints.

15.  The family systems approach begins when first you see the world through the eyes of the family.

16.  The family systems approach goes on to discover that every world view is terribly restricted.

17.  This is such a young art form that there are only amateurs in the family systems approach today, but family systems theory is not a bad idea.

18.  One best way may not be the optimal way for the whole family system.

19.  When you postpone thinking about something too long, then it may not be possible to think about it adequately at all.

20.  The therapist's function is the steersman of the therapeutic process.  The family takes responsibility for the content.

21.  All family systems have certain basic structural features in common.  That is to say, they have isomorphic tendency.  The tendency of a dynamic (behavior, attitude, etc.) to repeat itself at different hierarchical levels of the system.

22.  Each part of the family system is influenced by the interrelation among all of the parts.  Anything done on one level will be transmitted to the next level, marital to parenting, etc.

23.  The emphasis is on the process of exchanging energy and information.

24.  It is important when working with families (and social systems) to keep the uniquely human characteristics of people (and families) in the foreground of our thinking.  Human nature has not changed for thousands of years.  The technology of our psychology has changed.

25.  Individual members of the family system determine the nature of the system.  The family system has an effect on the behavior of the individuals.

26.  One significant change in the family system will bring about other changes in the family system.

27.  When family systems are formed, the new family system will influence the old.  When one system joins another, both change.

28.  Change takes place when boundaries open.  Boundaries define who and what ideas and things are included in a family system, and at what level of intimacy.

29.  If the community, public, people, other systems etc., think that a system has power, then the system has the power.

30.  Family "Systems Theory is a theory of how families go on doing what they are doing."  Jay Haley

31. Family systems seem to be controlled by the recalcitrant members, who receive the most attention, and are then empowered by the system.  This seems to be true for our political, religious, social and legal systems.

32.  In family systems, be aware of the medical "myth of the primary site."  The idea that something begins at the symptom.

33.  When family systems focus on trust, it puts everyone in a dependent position.

34.  In family systems, there is usually a family leader.  The one person who has the most capacity for self regulation.

35.  In a marital relationship, there may be only one person who can define self.  See this ability as a special gift.

36.  The most flexible person in a system will have the most influence on the system.

37.  Family systems are strongest when all members are highly committed to the family.

38.  Too much structure inhibits creativity and does not allow individuals in the family system (or any system) to grow.

39.  What is good as a group is not necessarily what is good for each one individually.  Marilyn Voss Savant

40.  The right thing done at the wrong time is the wrong thing.

41.  Technique is there to help the therapist move to another place.  Carl Whitaker

42. To change the culture in a system you must change the structure.

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