Essay Sample on Family Systems Theory: Examining Interactions at Macro & Micro Levels

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1081 Words
Date:  2023-02-06


Family system paradigm is one of the key theories in the field of behavioral and social sciences. It establishes that all systems can only be fully understood when the context of the family system is taken into account. It focuses on the exchange of behavior when members of the family interact. This theory has various advantages as it allows the study of different perspectives of a system, it permits examination at macro or micro level. It also enables interactions between subsystems. Despite the inherent advantages, the family system theory has been criticized. For instance, the theory does not adequately address issues of gender inequality and family violence among others. The application of family system theory helps in providing insights into the adoption of change in families and address the implications of behavior change. This paper examines family system theory, how it is applied, and its inherent advantages and limitation.

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

The family system theory has emerged as a fundamental framework to evaluate human functioning and dysfunction (Walsh 160). It enables conception of family's organizational complexity in addition to interactive patterns used by families in their daily interactions. A proper understanding of the family and their interaction to maintain balance is critical. Family system theory is established on the work of Murray Bowen and it entails eights fundamental concepts (Kaplan et al., 2). Using these concepts, it is possible to examine emotional forces that model how nuclear and extended families function.

Family system theory has substantially impacted on research concerning families and their interactions. This theory has some inherent advantages such as it provides insight on traumatic occurrences or terminal health cases and effects in individuals and families. It has provided a paradigm under which families could be examined. The family system theory allows various perspectives of a system to be examined (Johnson and Ray 782). In a system such as a family, it allows interactions at different levels of subsystems and this allows explanations from different perspectives. In addition, this theory can be used at both the macro and micro level. Despite these advantages, the clarity of the theory has been questioned. For instance, it disregards the understanding of the family as a dynamic system and focuses more on homeostatic processes (Fleming). Often, this theory dichotomizes family and individual aspects. This theory does not fully examine gender inequality issues within the family system. For example, inequality issues are overlooked in societies where power lies with men (Fleming). Another limitation is that issue of violence are not adequately articulated. For example family system theory emphasizes on family dynamics that lead violence and disregards attributes of violence perpetrator such as motivation and attitudes. There is a positivistic intellectual tradition that ensures researchers are peripheral to the problem being examined. It is often criticized that reality and problems in the family system are defined from the position of researcher who is outside the system.

The family system theory has been extensively used to address a myriad of mental and behavioral health issues. It can be generally regarded as an approach that effectively addresses issues that are in the context of the family. Some conditions that can be addressed by family system theory include depression, personality issues, anxiety, alcohol and substance abuse, schizophrenia and bipolar among others. The application of this theory helps educate members of the family how to adopt the change to promote a healthy family system. Clinicians can utilize this theory in helping individuals understand the implications of their behavior on the entire family system.

It is important to provide a case study of the application of the family system theory. A mother engaged a therapist in treatment of her son Joey who had violent outbursts. The therapy session was attended by Joey, the mother, father, sister, and brother. The therapy focused on dealing with Joe's problem but there was no progress. Family system approached was used and the therapist posed questions concerning the place of occurrence of outbursts, those present and how the problem was addressed (Johnson and Ray 785). The father mentioned that the outbursts do not occur in his presence because he does not feed Joe which implied that the mother had incompetent parenting skills. The sister mentioned that the mom calls the father since he knows how to deal with Joe since they have been living apart for some time. Joe explains that his mother cries because she misses the father and this scares him. It meant that the behavior was developed to bring communication between the father and the mother which meant it was a self-sacrificing way and not a pathological problem. A problem that was viewed as pathological from an individual aspect was actually logical from a systematic aspect (Johnson and Ray 785). The therapist advised the parents to clarify the direction of their marriage and nothing was done to address the outbursts. Sadness was expected from all the family members. Joe's outbursts ended almost instantly and never recurred.

Lastly, it is important to provide a personal experience that involved the family system theory. From personal experience l have noted that when a couple argues, one partner or both can talk to their friends to talk. The third person aids in minimizing anxiety, calm emotions and help with the decision to be taken. According to family system theory, individuals are not differentiated tend to triangulate others and differentiated ones deal with stress and life issues better. This means they have low likelihood of being triangulated.


In conclusion, the family system theory underscores the essence of interactions between family members and the underlying behaviors and emotions. It helps in the assessment of types of relationships between family members by evaluating family interactions. Using family system theory, conceptualized relationship process enables observation of different interactional process such as patterns, triangles, and coalitions among others. The pros and cons of the family system theory have been examined in addition to its application in understating issues in a family context.

Work Cited

Fleming, William. "Family Systems Theory - Challenges and Future Directions". Family.Jrank.Org, 2019,

Johnson, Benjamin E., and Wendel A. Ray. "Family Systems Theory". Encyclopedia of Family Studies, 2016, pp. 1-5. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., doi:10.1002/9781119085621.wbefs130. Accessed 29 Aug 2019.

Kaplan, Sebastian G. et al. "Family Systems Theory and Obesity Treatment". ICAN: Infant, Child, & Adolescent Nutrition, vol 6, no. 1, 2013, pp. 24-29. SAGE Publications, doi: 10.1177/1941406413516001. Accessed 29 Aug 2019.

Walsh, Froma. "Family Therapy Systemic Approaches to Practice". Us.Sagepub.Com,

Cite this page

Essay Sample on Family Systems Theory: Examining Interactions at Macro & Micro Levels. (2023, Feb 06). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience and 25% off!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism