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Family of Origin Theory Cheat Sheet by

system     psychology     family     influence     characteristics     origin


The impact of growing up in your family is tremen­dously powerful for everyone. There are an infinite variety of things you learned and experi­enced that shaped your percep­tions of yourself, others, and the world around you. It is in our family of origin that we learned how to interact and commun­icate, how to manage our emotions and meet our needs. Most of our values and beliefs come from our parents. Our sense of self originates chiefly from our relati­onship with our parents and other family members. If we felt safe and were loved a majority of the time, we develop a stable and healthy sense of self. If on the other hand, love and safety were usually not present, our sense of who we are can become unstable, unhealthy and fractured.

Family of Origin Therapy

Is about an explor­ation of familial factors and involves the process of tracing back “reverse engine­ering” to the origins of certain presen­t-day manife­sta­tions of behavior.

Throughout therapy family­-of­-origin issues (FOO) often arise and are a source of conflict for couples. As an introd­uction to bounda­ries, Open and Closed family systems begin the process of reflecting about approp­riate and inappr­opriate behavior.

Every family system has a method by which it operat­es-­-this system has in impact on the develo­pment of the family members. Though family systems can be very complex it is sometimes helpful to break them down into two types: Open and Closed.

Unders­tanding the Influence of Family

“The more intens­ively the family has stamped its character upon the child, the more [the child] will tend to feel and see its earlier miniature world again in the bigger world of adult life.” - Carl Jung

Charac­ter­istics of OPEN families

1. The family is flexib­le-­-change is welcome
2. Feelings are allowed and shared
3. Individual differ­ences are allowed and encourages
4. Mistakes are discip­lined and forgiven
5. Family and life roles are chosen by the individual
6. The family system serves­/exists for its members
7. The family supports and develops the individual

Charac­ter­istics of CLOSED families

1. The family is rigid and secretive
2. The family controls which feelings are allowed.
3. Individual identity is lost in the family
4. Mistakes are punished, judged, and shamed
5. Family roles are assigned by the family
6. The individual serves or exists for the family
7. The family is more important than the individual

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