Family Systems TheoryFamily systems theory is one of the principle theoretical foundations guiding the study of families and the development of clinical interventions designed to solve family difficulties. “Family systems theory allows one to understand the organizational complexity of families, as well as the interactive patterns that guide family interactions.”1
Family systems theory emerged from Ludwig Von Bertalanffy's work on general systems theory, which argued that organisms are complex, organized, and interactive. “Such an approach shifted from a linear causal model to models that required a broader, holistic orientation in order to understand fully the dynamics involved.”2 A systems perspective is a framework by which one can analyze the interrelation as well as the interdependence of all the components of a system.
Constructional ApproachA constructional orientation toward treatment was first proposed by Israel Goldiamond in 1974.3 The focus of this orientation is on (a) the construction of new skill sets, (b) reinstatement of skills demonstrated in the past, and/or (c) the transfer of current skills to new situations rather than solely on the alleviation or the elimination of distress through means such as psychotherapy or the use of psychotropic medications.
Behavior AnalysisBehavior Analysis is the scientific study of behavior. The field of Behavior Analysis, Division 25 of the American Psychological Association, has three domains: the experimental analysis of behavior, applied behavior analysis, and professional behavior-analytic service delivery. The experimental analysis of behavior (EAB) functions as the field's basic research agenda and is concerned with the specification of fundamental behavioral processes at an abstract and well-controlled level. The area of applied behavior analysis (ABA), engages in research, which examines how fundamental behavioral principles may be applied to produce desired changes in socially significant behavior.4 In both EAB and ABA, behavior analysts study the effects that biological and environmental factors have on behavior by studying behavior-environment interactions. Professional behavior analytic service delivery is focused on the application of tools and procedures derived from the research in EAB and ABA to solve practical problems. Professional behavior analytic service providers function as technologists, not as researchers.
Positive Behavior Support
"Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is a set of research-based strategies used to increase quality of life and decrease problem behavior by teaching new skills and making changes in a person's environment. Positive behavior support combines valued outcomes, behavioral and biomedical science, validated procedures, and systems change to enhance quality of life and reduce problem behaviors."5 Several key features characterize PBS. Below are five distinguishing features of this approach that we implement with families in stress:
- Collaborative partnerships with family members
- Functional assessment for the purpose of understanding problem behavior and developing effective behavior support strategies
- Attention to family goals, values, skills, and resources to ensure that support plans possess a good contextual fit with family life
- Multi-component support plans that emphasize prevention and teaching new skills
- Activity settings of daily and weekly routines as a unit of analysis and intervention
Human Performance Technology (HPT)Human Performance Technology is a systematic and systemic identification and removal of barriers to individual and organizational performance. HPT is typically applied with human individuals and groups that make up interactive systems, concerned with behavior that produces valuable accomplishments (i.e. performance), and utilizes well-established tools that solve practical problems. HPT is a strategy that most cost effectively and efficiently influences human performance. It is a combination of three fundamental processes: performance analysis, cause analysis, and intervention selection.6
Blueprints uses HPT tools to analyze the positive & negative factors affecting a family’s functioning including general circumstances outside of their control, the execution of principle activities & routines, and typical interactive patterns. HPT uses a wide range of interventions that are drawn from many disciplines. Therefore, we are able to select multiple interventions and tailor them specifically for each family. These interventions are designed to build on and maintain the positive factors while reducing the negative influential factors, which reliably lead to improved family functioning. Finally, Blueprints teaches parents management and leadership skills as well as other HPT strategies to help them manage their family system independently.
1 Levinson, D. (1995). Family Systems Theory – Basic concepts/propositions, challenges and future directions. In Marriage and Family Encyclopedia (Vol. 2, p.599). Retrieved May 14, 2009, from http://family.jrank.org/pages/599/Family-Systems-Theory.html.
2 See footnote 1.
3 Goldiamond, I. (1974). Toward a constructional approach to social problems: Ethical and constitutional issues raised by applied behavior analysis. Behaviorism, 2, 1-84.
4 Moore, J. & Cooper, J.O. (2003). Some proposed relations among the domains of behavior analysis. The Behavior Analyst, 69-84.