Introduction to Family Processes

Introduction to Family Processes

Introduction to Family Processes

Introduction to Family Processes


Written for undergraduate level courses on family processes, family studies, introduction to the family, family communication, and dynamics of the family, this thoroughly class-tested new edition examines what is known about what goes on "behind closed doors" in families.


When we study something as complicated as families, the perspective with which we begin influences what we think, what we see, and what we do. For example, if we begin with a psychological perspective we focus on the role of psychic processes. If we begin with a historical, sociological, or economic perspective, we use different terms, ask different questions, emphasize different things, and think in different ways. Therefore, it is important to know which perspective is used in a book about families.

The perspective used in this book focuses on inner family life. Some researchers and teachers refer to this as a family dynamics approach or a family processes approach. When we study familial processes rather than psychological, sociological, historical, or economic processes, we try to understand the interior of the family and think first and primarily about what families are like and what is happening when they are enabling and disabling, healthy and unhealthy, successful and unsuccessful.

An important aspect of this approach is that we need to understand the nature of family life. This text was written with the assumption that families exist. That is not meant to be a flippant comment. It has long been suggested that we study the family in its own right. That is, families can exist as entities and do have the potential to be a force independent of the actors within the family. That does not mean it is a thing in the same way a shirt is a thing. However, families can exist in the same way that a team exists. Its members may choose to subscribe to the group and when they participate in family life a family is born.

Additionally, it assumes that families are goal seeking. Generally, families do the best they can to achieve certain goals they have chosen. In other words, they maximize their efforts and their resources to succeed. This approach would, therefore, also assume that families rarely set out to do poorly. Family members (and therefore families generally) make mistakes. However, most families try to do the best they can at using available resources as a strategy to succeed at whatever they think of as important.

To understand this unique world of the family we examine a different set of concepts, such as generational alliances, differentiation of self, emotional triangles, developmental tasks, analog messages, boundaries, emotional distance, family paradigms, and experiential aspects of mothering.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.