The theoretical lens of family systems | Psychology Marriage and Family



According to the family systems theory “everything that happens to any family member has an impact on everyone else in the family.” Look at the following case study through the lens of family systems theory.

  • James and Katie have been married for nearly eight years, and are trying to raise a family and make ends meet. Katie stays home during the day with Will (age 3) and Zack (age 2) while Susan (age 7) is at school. Six months ago Katie took a job at a local factory where she works the 4pm to 12am shift, while James takes care of the kids at night.  This leaves little time for the couple or family to spend together.  Susan has expressed that she misses the amount of time she used to spend with her mother, whom she considers her best friend.  She has told her parents she wishes things “would go back to what they used to be” when Katie did not work outside the home.
  • Susan has been having academic problems at school. Her teacher, who was concerned about changes in Susan’s behavior (increased irritability and expressed frustration with other students), recently called in the parents. She suggested that Susan see a counselor.
  • Katie cannot help feeling tired all the time, and she is a bit overwhelmed by the demands of two jobs. Although Katie would like to reduce her hours at work, or to quit her job, James worries about how the loss of income would impact the family. James seems to be withdrawing, and he wonders why Katie thinks she is the only one with two sets of responsibilities.  
  • The family usually attends church on Sundays, but has little time for increased involvement. Katie’s parents live about an hour away, although they rarely see one another.  James’s parents live out of state.
  1. Explain how you would evaluate the family through this theory.  
  2. What changes towards health would you recommend for this family?  
  3. You should take concepts described in the text and illustrate how they may relate to this family.

Examples of concepts can include:

  • Hierarchy of connected systems: multiple system levels, suprasystem, subsystem, boundaries, the interdependence of parts,
  • Flexibility in the family: open systems, closed systems,
  • Cohesion,
  • Communication and feedback loops


  • Paper length is approximately 700-750 words 
  • Use APA style, including a cover page and reference page.
  • Introductory Paragraph, setting forth a clear statement of your assignment.
  • Conclusion, a concise statement that reaffirms your assignment.
  • Cite a minimum of 2 sources (APA). This can include the textbook, or other outside materials.

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