Normal Family Processes: Growing Diversity and Complexity

Normal Family Processes: Growing Diversity and Complexity

Normal Family Processes: Growing Diversity and Complexity

Normal Family Processes: Growing Diversity and Complexity


Since its original publication two decades ago, this widely adopted text has been acclaimed as a milestone in the clinical literature. Surveying the vast diversity of family forms, life challenges, and value systems in our rapidly changing society, the volume has helped redefine the boundaries of "normal family life" for generations of students and practitioners. This fully revised and expanded third edition once again brings together leading contributors to illuminate the complexities of healthy family functioning across varied structural arrangements and sociocultural and developmental contexts.

New in the Third Edition

Existing chapters have been updated or fully rewritten to reflect the latest theories, research, demographic trends, and clinical practices. Seven entirely new chapters address single parent families, immigrant families, spirituality, family resilience, key processes in marital success and failure, and more.


What is a normal family in the 21st century? With the growing diversity and complexity of families in our rapidly changing world, no single model of normality and health fits most families; a pluralistic view is required. Drawing on the latest research, this volume illuminates our understanding of the strengths and challenges in the broad spectrum of normal families in our times.

The first edition of Normal Family Processes, published in 1982, was hailed as a landmark volume in the clinical literature. With traditional mental health training and practice focused on family deficits and blind to family strengths, I remarked then, only half-jokingly, that a normal family might be defined as one that had not yet been clinically assessed! This groundbreaking text was the first to examine normality from a family systems orientation, presenting pioneering research and conceptualization of family normality and health. Offering a fresh perspective on “nonclinical” families, the book proved to be widely influential in rebalancing the skewed clinical focus that had tended to pathologize families. In the following decade, the field of family therapy shifted attention to greater recognition and fostering of family strengths. The second edition of Normal Family Processes, in 1993, presented advances made by leading researchers and clinical scholars in the conceptualization and assessment of family functioning and gave greater attention to the increasing diversity of families as well.

This third edition updates and expands our knowledge and perspectives on well-functioning families as family life and societies worldwide have become more diverse and complex. Most scholars and clinicians have moved a healthy distance beyond the simplistic quest to discover-or recover-a universal blueprint for healthy family functioning and to mold families to fit that standard. Additionally, postmodern theory has heightened awareness that views of normality are socially constructed, influenced by cultural and professional values and biases. Nevertheless, it is imperative to examine notions of normality because they still profoundly influence

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