About Family Systems

        A system is a set of related elements that interact dynamically with each other and the environment, and have identifiable properties. Key elements of a family system are its members + beliefs + roles + rules + rituals + assets + limitations + goals + boundaries + environment - a larger system of systems, or metasystem. Understanding these elements and how they relate and interact can human-service providers and clients assess how well any family is filling the needs of (nurturing) its members, and what can improve that.

        Public and professional experience since the 1950s suggests that counseling and psychotherapy based on family-systems principles is usually more effective than earlier concepts focusing on individuals. This is because personal and relationship "problems" (unmet needs) are often promoted by the multi-generational environment (system).

        An old idea that is slowly gaining current acceptance is that typical individual personalities are inner-family systems of semi-independent subselves or "parts." Evidence is increasing that using family-system therapy principles with inner families is often effective at reducing a wide range of significant personal and some physical problems. This Website is based on this inner-family system concept, after more than 20 years of experience with "parts work" with individuals, couples, and families. A basic premise here is that when one or more family adults' inner families are out of harmony, their relationships and outer families have "major problems." Lesson 1 here focuses on intentionally improving inner-family system harmony and effectiveness. 

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