Family Systems And Marriage Psychology Research Paper

Length: 10 pages Sources: 8 Subject: Family and Marriage Type: Research Paper Paper: #87974286 Related Topics: Family Counseling, Family Therapy, Family Assessment, Evangelism
Excerpt from Research Paper :

Psychology of Marriage and Family Systems

The literal meaning of the word "psychopathology" is a mind disorder or disease. Psychological diagnosticians, while assuming that the illness is located inside a person, always use the medical model in treating or studying patients with 'mental illnesses'. In comparison with the approach they take, I present two converging and related psychopathology perspectives. The two perspectives give an analysis based on context from the family's viewpoint. The first approach, the "family systems" approach, is a conception that came up in the 1950s as a substitute to the traditional focus of psychopathology on individuals (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 1996).

The second approach, "family risk factors" has been in existence in psychopathology but not in the foreground. It tries to identify a couple family aspects of the functioning of the family that are significant in the treatment as well as etiology of patients that have tested positive for various disorder diagnosis or that are undergoing high psychological stress levels. Present and past relationships between the child and parent are often cited as the risk factors in the family considered to have an effect on normal development as well as psychopathology. Several perspectives give suggestions that negative or positive relationship patterns between the parent and child are always repeated for generations and foster adaptive psychopathology and functioning in the family's individual members (Haley, 1977).

Current patterns of family systems: parent - child relationship

Increasing evidence from the last 2 decades show that relationship quality between parents of the children is connected with internalizing and externalizing problems of behavior the child displays. Even though the investigators utilizing the perspective of family risk factors sometimes examine the impact made by two or more family protective or risk factors, the analysis they make is often unidirectional - to mean that focus is put on family effect on the adaptation of individuals or the psychopathology present in a member of the family (Haley, 1977).

The psychology of marriage

It is critical that it is established that marriage is a global risk factor in the internalization of symptoms, nonetheless, it makes no clarifications on the nature of marriage effects on psychopathology. The problem could be because people always narrow matrimony down to universal satisfaction in the studies earlier carried out. Exclusive focus on satisfaction in marriage gives a limited view of the way marriage makes a contribution to the psychopathology of an individual, and this has prompted agitation for the need to investigate the roles of certain processes in relationships (e.g., conflictual and supportive interactions) in the course of development of psychopathology (e.g., Beach, 2002).

Clinicians and researchers understand that the current interventions in the treatment of psychopathology will be enhanced greatly by the identification of fresh clinical targets; having increased understanding of the relationship between depression and marriage processes is very important in the enhancing of effectiveness and efficacy of the interventions (emphasis added; Beach, 2002). The use of family therapy as a means of practice of psychotherapy began in the 1960s. Nevertheless, the concepts and clinical factors that influenced its development is traceable to an earlier time.

Purpose of the paper

The aim of this paper is identifying a number of the main social factors and the research, clinical as well as conceptual efforts that gave the soil nourishment for family therapy growth as a modality for treatment.

Theory of family systems and therapy

While the contemporary family therapy seeds were planted in 1950s by individuals practicing research that is centered on family in areas of schizophrenia etiology, those who tilled the soil came from a period earlier than then. It began with professional social work development in the 19th century and 20th century, together with other group work, child guidance and marriage counseling movements that took place in the beginning of the 20th century. It is in this period...


First, the focus would afford the researchers an opportunity to capture various marriage relationship aspects not yet accounted for by any of the global measures of satisfaction (Beach, 2002). Secondly, relationship processes adapt well into marriage theories as well as individual psychopathology. For instance, the marital discord model of depression (Beach, Sandeen, & O'Leary, 1990) gives a suggestion that matrimonially discordant couples undergo changes in relationships which drive depression. Indicatively, the spouses undergo through more interactions that are negative (like conflict) which cause stress as well as decrease positive functioning (like support) that therefore causes reduction in relationship challenge coping ability. An important aspect of this model is that relationship between marital depression and discord is accounted for by relationship processes. Thirdly, if the symptoms variance in the control of global satisfaction is accounted for by relationship processes, then programs of prevention can be refined to specifically target these processes. This kind of refinements would enhance program efficacy since relationship processes would be targeted directly in the interventions, while global satisfaction will be indirectly targeted through the alteration of marriage functioning (e.g., through the teaching of skills for it). The available research indicating the relationship between psychopathology and marital processes, identification of 4 relationship processes specifically relevant to the current study was made (Rebecca and Erika, 2011):


Problem/conflict-solving interactions: length and frequency of arguments; the behaviors they engage in case of conflict; aggression severity levels; presence; strategies of recovery following arguments


Support transactions: the support quality given when a partner has a problem or is down; parity between received and desired support levels; whether the support is negative or positively given; if support is received and given mutually between the partners


Emotionally intimate transactions: a mutual sense of closeness; affection and interdependence; warmth; emotional vulnerability comfort; comfort to be oneself around partner; quality of self-disclosures made; demonstration of affection and love; friendship (physical and verbal expressions)


Balance of control and power: the ability of the couple to negotiate control in various areas (e.g., finances, scheduling the day) and treating one another as competent and independent persons; a/symmetry when it comes to making of decisions as well as power (Rebecca and Erika, 2011).

Psychopathology Definition and Its Significance in Theory of Family Systems

Therapists and theorists in family systems do not devote as much attention to issues in psychopathology definition. Different kinds of criteria are made use of in differentiating normal development and psychopathology. They all involve descriptions of people extremely deviating from social values and norms - from the population mean (a continuous psychopathology view), or from a psychological functioning ideal that is clinically defined. The resource takes quite a broad view, giving family systems as well as risk factor approaches descriptions to a range of phenomena ranging from stress levels that are statistically significant to other disorders diagnosed clinically (Cowan & Cowan, 2006).

Etiology: Causal Models vs. Risk Models

One common saying in psychopathology study is that an understanding of each disorder's etiology is essential. This has been viewed as the identification of causal events, variables or conditions (A) which are linked to a disorder (B), or are a precedent to the disorder (A before B) and give some action that give rise to the disorder. Further, for an establishment of causal connections to be made, it must be proven that B. cannot be traced to any other factors but A; that a unique link exists between the cause as well as effect (Cowan and Cowan, 2006).

Provision of causality evidence in family study involving children's development is not an easy task (Measelle, Ablow, Cowan and Cowan, 1998). People are aware that indeed correlations only is not evidence of any causality, but a lack of any correlations is harmful to a claim that there is cause. For instance, where no association exists between schizophrenia presence in a family and communication that is double binding in that family, it may not be possible to support the theory that the schizophrenia has a link to communication.

Formulations of etiology try to give causal explanations to disorders using the metaphors of the pre-20th century in the world of medicine that actually had a basis on 17th century physics. These models always have a direct link between effect and cause. Contrastingly, developmental psychopathologists adopt models on risk-outcome used in public health epidemiology (Rebecca and Erika, 2011). In this model:


A risk factor is an antecedent condition or variable linked to an increased possibility of a given specific result in the population;


A protective factor is a condition or variable that leads to a reduction in negative outcomes probabilities linked to a certain risk; and


A vulnerable factor is a condition or variable which raises the possibility of negative outcomes linked with a certain risk (Cowan and Cowan, 2006).

It is difficult to define resilience. Sometimes, where risk is…

Sources Used in Documents:


Ackerman, N.W. (1958). The psychodynamics of family life. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Ackerman, N.W. (1962), Family Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis: The Implications of Difference. Family Process, 1: 30-43.

Ackerman, N.W. (1962). Family Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis: The implications of difference. Family Process, 1(1): 30-43.

Ackerman, N.W. (1966). Treating the troubled family. New York, NY: Basic Books.

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