Postmodern and Family System Theory Approach Term Paper

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Counselling Theories

Postmodern and Family System Theory Approach

There have been significant interest in research on the problems of addiction; hence, the many scientific studies on the issue. Many of the studies in this area end up with the same conclusions; the concept of addiction is complicated. The complexity partly arises from the effect it has on the drug abuser from different perspectives such as psychological, social, biological, and the impacts of addiction on social law, economics and politics. On the other hand, psychologists perceive drug addiction as a disease. From a religious worldview, addiction is a sin. Therefore, it is possible to view addiction from a medical, behavioral, and spiritual angle. As stated, the concept of addiction is complex, and there are many definitions of addiction reflecting the complexity of the phenomenon (Sremac, 2010).

Notably, all the definitions of addiction portray a negative judgment on addiction, but owing to the complexity of the concept, there lacks an adequate definition. For instance, addiction is a spiritual illness, behavioral disorder, and people, or rather the addicts find drugs their god, in the context of behavior and spiritual revival (Sremac, 2010). Many prior studies agree that the crucial aspects of addiction include: 1) the growth of challenging pattern in appetite for addictive habits; 2) the presence of physiological and psychological parts of the behavioral pattern that result to dependence; 3) the interaction of these parts in the addict's life, which contribute to resistance in the sense that it becomes hard for the addict to embrace change.

Prior studies further suggest that there exist various theories and approaches of addiction, but many of them fail to offer sufficient information based on social and contextual factors. Even if many studies suggest social factors, some studies differ, and suggest that addiction is behavior, which is central to particular variables emerging from the psychosocial setting of the family (Sremac, 2010). Owing to this, the family has become the center of therapy, whereby, the family takes part in developing interventions in efforts to treat addiction. In the recent decades, many scholars have expanded, and disregarded traditional theories and included the family to develop the family therapy theory (Russo and Kemmerer, 2006). This paper explores the postmodern and family systems theory in addiction.

Family Systems Theory

Family systems theory has become an important approach to comprehend human functions and dysfunction. In the past decades, family therapy theory and practice has become responsive owing to the developing diversity and complexity of families in the dynamic world. A new generation of family systems scholars have re-formulated and expanded the family therapy theory and practice. With an extensive bio-psychosocial systemic view, there is much attention on biological and socio-cultural impacts. Notably, the practice of family therapy is central to the general presumptions concerning the mutual influence of the family and interaction of individual members and socio-cultural processes (Caldwell and Caxton, 2010).

In the case of addiction, family systems approach is not core to who is in the room, and more by the counselor's interest to relationships and systemic patterns in evaluation and intervention. In a family, there exists an interconnection such that each family member influences the other members, who in turn affect the first member in a cycle. In such a cycle, there is an action and a subsequent reaction. For instance, a father's continued use of alcohol may influence the adolescent child's tantrum to abuse alcohol into addiction (Tafa and Baiocco, 2009). This will result to a sequence of interactions, but regardless of how the sequence began, family members can collaborate to handle the problem.

In addition, professional assistance or intervention will aim at interrupting vicious cycles to promote "virtuous cycle" and solve the problem. On the other hand, the practice of family therapy addresses the complex interactions of individual, family, and social processes. The influence of biological influences in medical, psychiatric conditions, and psychosocial well being is well developed. Owing to several influences, counselors and other practitioners will need to be cautious not to suppose a family causal role in individual symptoms or relational distress. For instance, it is not always correct to blame parents regarding a child's addiction to alcohol because, at times, peer pressure may have played a role in the same.

Postmodern and Family Systems Theory: Application in Addiction

Family Systems Theory

Prior studies suggest that in many cases, drug addiction develops during the adolescent stage primarily because of the intense fear of disconnection experienced by the family. The fear develops as a response by the family to the drug addicts' effort of individuation. Moreover, a sound family system, parents can re-negotiate their relationship that will not include the child in the future. In case the parents lack the capacity to redefine their roles, the child will lack the chance of differentiation and the parents, together with the addict become entirely stuck within this stage of development. In the same context, the function of the problem of addictions is that it offers the family a paradoxical solution to the challenge of upholding or dissolving the family (Jackson, Usher and O'Brien, 2006).

This suggests that there is a potential fall of the family without the addict, or the addict can abandon home and become an independent adult. Therefore, the problem of drug addiction, to some extent, helps in maintaining the family's balance and provides the addict a form of pseudo-individuation. For instance, by focusing on the various problems of the drug addict, no matter the seriousness of the problems, the parents will have an alternative other than dealing with their marital challenges. Overall, the drug addict appears to be part of a cycle, whereby the addict will behave in a destructive manner when marital challenges and the risk of separation emanate (Russo and Kemmerer, 2006).

Postmodern Theory

In the postmodern context, addiction becomes a problem for the family when all the members reach a consensus via their language that addiction is a problem. Owing to this, prior studies suggest that the family creates the problem of addiction via their conversations or meaning systems around the family. The function of language in human relations is indisputable in the sense that it is not possible to understand a situation or phenomenon without recognizing the context it happens (Mott and Gysin, 2008). Notably, problems develop in a specific context owing to difficulties in the interpersonal relationships, which manifest via the medium of language. Notably, drug addiction is a family disease, which affects every family member. Therefore, something that affects one member of the family can affect other family members.

Within the family system, the problem of drug addiction serves the purpose of organizing the family. This means that addiction influences everyone who has a connection with the addict and mobilizes them around the problem in an attempt to provide a solution. Initially, the problem of drug addiction starts as the struggle of the addict but later influences the family, friends, society and others. In an attempt to intervene and provide a solution to solve the drug addiction problem, the family can exhaust their resources, but others, such as the counselor can intervene. The others can also include healthcare practitioners, rehabilitation facilities, police, and judicial system including the correctional centers. Other studies suggest that the problem of addiction emerges within a context of relatedness. Therefore, the family system can generate and maintain the drug addiction problem it is trying to provide a solution (Grubler and Taylor, 2006).

Family Systems Counseling Theory

Family systems theory in therapy is central to the notion that it is possible to attain a complete understanding of an addict by evaluating their family. In addition, the theory states that symptoms of such individuals portray dysfunctions. Alternatively, the family members are in a constant interaction, whereby a change in one member will have an influence on the other members. Therefore, counselors will base their strategy in changing the system in order to change the individual (Jackson, Usher and O'Brien, 2006). They achieve this by altering the dysfunctional patterns or relating and creating operational manners of interacting. Regardless of the source of the problem, counselors believe that including family members in solutions is advantageous.

Family systems theory further postulates that individuals first learn about themselves, their emotions and the way to manage relationships from the experience of growing up in a family. Such an experience affects the manner of functionality throughout the life of such a person. Therefore, by gaining an understanding of themselves in the family emotional system, and putting effort to restore the natural, and anxious reactions, addicts become flexible and work towards restraining from addictive behavior. Although there are many family therapies based on cognitive, experiential or psychodynamic psychology, the most practiced techniques of the therapies are central to family systems theory.

Family therapy emerged and developed its theoretical basis from the progressing, cross disciplinary body of knowledge known as systems theory. The theory postulates that individual experiences have a connection to its context, and it is possible to understand such. However, when it comes…

Sources Used in Document:


Caldwell, K., & Claxton, C. (2010). Teaching Family Systems Theory: A Developmental-

Constructivist Perspective. Contemporary Family Therapy, 32(1), 3-21.

Gruber, K.J., & Taylor, M.F. (2006). A Family Perspective for Substance Abuse: Implications

from the Literature. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 6(1), 1 -- 29.

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