System Theory and Communicationtheory

System: A system is defined as a bounded set of interrelated elements exhibiting coherent behavior as a trait (Constantine, 1986). Families are considered systems because they are made up of interrelated elements or objectives, they exhibit coherent behaviors, they have regular interactions, and they are interdependent on one another. Boundary: Boundaries are the interface between systems and subsystems. In family theories, boundaries are set by functions of the system, the implicit rules defining who participates in the system and how they can participate. Boundaries influence the movement of people into and out of the system.

Open Boundary/Closed Boundary: Every system has ways of including and excluding elements. If a family is permeable and vague boundaries it is considered “open”. Open boundary allows elements outside the family to influence it. Closed boundary isolates its members from environment and seems self-contained. No family system is completed closed or completely open. Morphostasis/ Morphogenesis: Morphostasis refers to the ability of the family system to maintain consistency in its organizational characteristics despite the challenges that may rise up over time (Steignlass, 1987).

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In contrast, morphogenesis refers to the systems’ ability to grow systemically over time to adapt to the changing needs of the family. In all families, there is an ongoing dynamic tension between trying to maintain stability and introducing change. Also feedbacks loops is used to describe the patterns of interaction and communications that facilitates movement toward morphogenesis or morphostasis. Negative feedbacks maintain stability and minimize changes which help to maintain homeostasis, while positive feedbacks facilitate changes.

In family system, families draw boundaries between what is included in the family system and what is external to the system. Boundaries regulate the flow of information into and out of the family and the permeability of these boundaries often distinguish one family from another. As systemic therapists, when working with families with very open boundaries where members and others are allowed to freely come and go without much restriction, we may find ourselves being welcomed into the family and the information about the family is forthcoming without limitations and interventions may be accepted easily.

On the other hand, in closed boundaries families, therapists may have more difficult time being accepted by the family. Information about the family is more difficult to obtain, and ideas and interventions of the therapist are more difficult to be accepted. So it is important to recognize the boundaries exist within the family system and different family norms, values, and cultures that govern the way they interact. Moreover, the permeability of family boundaries will often change with the developmental age and need of the family members which related to morphogenesis.

The dynamic nature of family helps to ensure that the family can meet the challenges associated with daily living and developmental growth of the family members. Complementarity/ Symmetry: Symmetry in family system refers to the partners tend to mirror each other’s behavior, and thus their interaction can be termed symmetrical, weakness or strength, goodness or badness, are not relevant here, for equality can be maintained in any of these areas. Complementarity refers to one partner’s behavior complements that of the other, forming a different sort of behavioral pattern.

Symmetrical interaction is characterized by equality and the minimization of difference, while complementary interaction is based on the maximization of difference. For example, a couple may become involved in a symmetrical pattern of blaming each other for their dissatisfaction and ultimately separate. Healthy family systems are characterized by a mix of symmetrical and complementary behavior patterns (high differentiations). So in family therapy, interventions about a few transactions where roles are reversed in the family are introduced, it may be helpful to their family relationships.

Report (content)/ Command (message): The report aspect of a message conveys information and is, therefore, synonymous in human communication with the content of the message. It may be about anything that is communicable regardless of whether the particular information is true or false, valid or invalid. The command aspect, on the other hand, refers to what sort of a message it is to be taken as, and therefore, ultimately to the relationship between the communications. “This is how I see myself; this is how I see you; this is how I see you seeing me. After reviewing all the core constructs of systems theory and communication theory at the end of the term, I found they have inalienable connections.

System is the basic background of all the concepts. Compared with traditional family therapy, which has had a primary focus on interactions among family members, quality of family relationship, various aspects of family development and functioning, however, systemic therapy emphasizes the role of wider systems and social contexts, such as community, society and the culture to which the family belongs.

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