Nuclear Family Emotional Processes Discussion
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Topic 3 DQ 2 (Obj. 3.1)
Each family has unique ways of interacting, many of which you, as a counselor, might find uncomfortable. What patterns of family interactions within Bowen’s theory would you find most challenging and how would you appropriately manage these biases?
This discussion question is informed by the following CACREP Standards:
2.F.3.a. Theories of individual and family development across the lifespan.
2.F.5.a. Theories and models of counseling.
The concept of nuclear family emotional process describes four basic relationship patterns that govern where problems develop in a family. People’s attitudes and beliefs about relationships play a role in the patterns, but the forces primarily driving them are part of the emotional system. The patterns operate in intact, single-parent, stepparent, and other nuclear family configurations.
Clinical problems or symptoms usually develop during periods of heightened and prolonged family tension. The tension level depends
on the stress a family encounters, how a family adapts to stress, and on a family’s connection with extended family and social networks. Tension increases the activity of one or more of four relationship patterns. Where symptoms develop depends on which patterns are most active. The higher the tension, the more chance that symptoms will be severe and that several people will be symptomatic.
The four basic relationship patterns are:
Marital conflict – As family tension increases and spouses get more anxious, each spouse externalizes his or her anxiety into the marital relationship. Each focuses on what is wrong with the other, tries to control the other, and resists the other’s efforts at control.
Dysfunction in a spouse – One spouse pressures the other to think and act in certain ways, and the other yields to the pressure. Both spouses accommodate to preserve harmony, but one does more of it. The interaction is comfortable for both people up to a point, but if family tension rises further, the subordinate spouse may yield so much self-control that his or her anxiety increases significantly. If other necessary factors are present, the anxiety fuels the development of a psychiatric, medical, or social dysfunction.
Impairment of one or more children – The spouses focus their anxieties on one or more of their children. They worry excessively and usually have an idealized or negative view of the child. The more the parents focus on the child, the more the child focuses on them. He is more reactive than his siblings to the parents’ attitudes, needs, and expectations. The process undercuts the child’s differentiation from the family and makes him vulnerable to act out or internalize family tensions. The child’s anxiety can impair his school performance, social relationships, and even his health.
Emotional distance – This pattern is consistently associated with the others. People distance from each other to reduce the relationship intensity but risk becoming too isolated.
The basic relationship patterns result in family tensions coming to rest in certain parts of the family. The more anxiety one person or one relationship absorbs, the less other people must absorb. This means that some family members maintain their functioning at the expense of others. People do not want to hurt each other, but when anxiety chronically dictates behavior, someone usually suffers for it.
Important information for writing discussion questions and participation
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Important information on Writing a Discussion Question
- Your response needs to be a minimum of 150 words (not including your list of references)
- There needs to be at least TWO references with ONE being a peer reviewed professional journal article.
- Include in-text citations in your response
- Do not include quotes—instead summarize and paraphrase the information
- Follow APA-7th edition
- Points will be deducted if the above is not followed
Participation –replies to your classmates or instructor
- A minimum of 6 responses per week, on at least 3 days of the week.
- Each response needs at least ONE reference with citations—best if it is a peer reviewed journal article
- Each response needs to be at least 75 words in length (does not include your list of references)
- Responses need to be substantive by bringing information to the discussion or further enhance the discussion. Responses of “I agree” or “great post” does not count for the word count.
- Follow APA 7th edition
- Points will be deducted if the above is not followed
- Remember to use and follow APA-7th edition for all weekly assignments, discussion questions, and participation points.
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