Family Systems have always fascinated me. I believe understanding the theories of family systems can aid families in recovery.
Virginia Satir was a pioneer in this field. Often referred to as the mother of family therapy, she believed that treating the whole family was vital to her individual clients. She recognized that the problems of an individual extend to the family and often stem from the family. Therefore, she emphasized treating the entire family rather than only one of its members.
People’s behaviors, actions, feelings, perceptions and/or mental health problems that originated in their family of origin were often the product of negative family experiences.
In an alcoholic family and/or addicted family, all family members are impacted. Each member adjusts their behavior to navigate a difficult situation. The most affected person becomes the central figure around which other family members navigate.
I am not sure who created the analogy of the family system as that of a mobile. I think it makes the point very well. When one piece of the mobile shifts, the entire mobile shifts. When one person is ill, the entire family adjusts.
Children are a piece of the mobile. They react to the unpredictable nature of the affected person in several ways. They adopt mannerisms to gain a sense of stability (even when it does not serve them).
It turns out there is a commonality in how children respond. In the next several posts I will explore these reactions further. Once you are familiar with these roles, you will see them played out, not only in your own family, but other families you encounter.
(*further adapted by Claudia Black and Sharon Wegscheider Cruse)