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Systems Theory

The fundamentals of systems theory were laid out by prominent social scientists such as Gregory Bateson, Humberto Maturana, Kennethe Boulding and William Ashby to name just a few. It is a psychological theory that uses complex systems in order to have a deeper understanding of human experience as well as our behavioral patterns. There are many branches of psychology that the systems theory is applied to including engineering psychology however it has a strong base in family systems psychology. Mainly the system explores affective, motivational, cognitive, and group behavioral patterns.

Therapy and Systems Theory

Systems theory is actually quite broad in the sense that it can be used in different types of therapy: from couples to organizations, communities or even whole families having therapy with this method. Essentially it is put to use in order to identify and analyses what each person’s role is within the system that they are in: for example paternal role within a family. Anxiety and behavioral patterns are close examined to see how they fit in to the group as a whole and from here behavior or attitudes can be changed and altered to create a better dynamic and group system.

The fundamental objective of using this theory in therapy is to create a more harmonious and working group dynamic; essentially turning a negative into a positive which in turn directly relates to well-being and other experiences. Indeed, as we have already mentioned, the theory has evolved to the extent that it can be uses and applied in a variety of different areas that are experiencing either conflict of a breakdown in relations.

Systems Theory Applied to Families

Originally the systems theory, when used in a familial context, was first developed by Dr. Murray Brown. The theory views the family, not as a group of individuals, but rather as a system and any issues, problems or conflicts is a direct result of this system as opposed to placing the blame on any one individual or individuals. The overlapping relationships that come with a family often breakdown however they can only be resolved if the whole system is working together as it were.

When systems theory is used in family therapy, the members express their roles within the normal family system however there are clear rules in regards to boundaries during the session. The session involved the members acting out their roles so that both the therapist and the other participants can see the cause and effect of their role within the system and their behavioral patterns too. By identifying these issues, everyone can work within the system to resolve them and turn a negative behavioral pattern into a positive one that ultimately benefits everyone involved and ensures a positive relationship within the familiar structure.