A family provides a safe place to nurture children to maturity.
Contact us for help on making family rules,
enforcing rules ... and punishments.
You are a member of many overlapping relationship systems. You are
at least a member of your family of origin, your friends, your culture
and your country. Each system creates, communicates and enforces rules,
some of which will contradict other rules. Conflicts are inevitable.
We help people explore and change how their relationships are affected
by often-unspoken rules.
If your parents never had children, chances
are that you won't either!
Virginia Satir introduced systemic family coaching (see her book
New Peoplemaking). Satir showed how individuals respond to
family dynamics. Her systems theory showed that a system is more
than the sum of its parts, and that challenges faced by a family
are not only the challenges of its members. Our family coaching
examines rules, roles and tasks; and explores disruptions such as
divorce, illness and death, as well as negative emotions and
In my family,
emotional displays and abuse occurred often and impulsive
behavior was normal ... the consequences of my parents'
addictions and mental illness. I repeated my parents behaviors
with my own children.
Our training supports the progressive integration of
theory with practice - we use demonstrations, case histories and practical
exercises to encourage healthy change as well as learning.
Training Overview: Systemic Family Coaching
1. Expect complexity
Our systems coaching deals with complexity
and can be adapted to all human relationship systems. These skills
are useful in predicting and maintaining couple, family and team
behavior, and organizational development. Our assessment differs
from, and can be integrated with, individual assessment. We excel
in helping people manage negative emotions and solve relationship
2. Perceive a family as a hierarchy of interrelated subsystems
Most human systems have subsystems - families have parents, in-laws
and children separated by often-unspoken rules about who does what with
whom and to whom. Common coaching goals are to confirm roles and set
boundaries between subsystems - between groups of family or team members.
3. Examine the influence of each member of a system
Human systems are often controlled by dysfunctional people. Families
often succumb to covert control by a victim, and adapt to victim-like
behavior with lies, denial, excuses and justifications. A victim can
destabilize a family system (a parent may act like a child, or a child
may act like a parent). Systems coaching can find the right place for
dysfunctional people in the hearts and minds of healthier members.
4. Who protects the family?
As you probe into family dynamics, a family member may demand
attention, to distract you and to protect the family's status quo. See
the family as a system rather than as isolated individuals ...
you might praise the family for being so closely-connected, and that
member for being so protective.
5. Emphasize "these things cause each other"
Parental stress may result in parent-child entanglements, with
coalitions against other family members (see
Parental Alienation). Example: if a
victim-identified Mom explodes with anger, Dad and Daughter may become
closer. Individual coaching could resolve Mom's identification, while
systems coaching would encourage Mom and Dad to communicate to their
children better about parenthood issues.
6. Focus on future solutions rather than on past conflicts
Many couples argue about how problems started. Instead, we focus on
solutions. Although genetics and family stress play their parts; we focus
on solutions. Perhaps offer couple counseling to improve parental communication
- and that helps them manage arguments, nagging, etc.
7. Use negative feedback loops to promote
stability and positive feedback loops to promote change
When an addicted family member stops drinking or using, family
members may try to push him back into addiction to avoid destabilizing
the system. Use negative feedback loops to help prevent this.
If an argument between children escalates into a parental
fight, a child may try to calm the parents back into homeostasis.
Positive feedback loops may make such explosions unnecessary.
8. Use integrated feedback loops to express wholeness
Emotional or verbal abuse can escalate from unwanted advice through
criticism to insults. Abuse leads to more abuse. Use systems coaching to
help people manage their emotions and improve their relationships. As their
partnership improves, the parents better solve problems. Their affection
can deepen and their children can carry a blueprint of happy partnership
into their future relationships.
9. Family members can take responsibility
for their own healing
People who grew up in refugee camps may want a happy family as
much as people who were raised by loving parents. How people choose
to perceive their original conditions is more important than those
conditions. We coach people to own their emotions so that they can
move on; rather than becoming chronic victims stuck in traumatic and
abusive memories (often called PTSD).
10. First-order change helps families stabilize. Second-order
change helps families actualize. Third-order change triggers
such as marriage, birth of children, children starting school, children
leaving home,etc. often coincide with emotional stress.
First-order change implies minor
improvements to extend knowledge and skills.
Second-order change implies major changes that require new knowledge and skills.
Third-order change implies a
system that can initiate, evaluate and
adjust second-order changes.
We affirm the five freedoms described by family therapist
- The freedom to feel what one feels, rather than what one
- The freedom to think what one thinks, rather than what
one should think.
- The freedom to perceive what is here and now, rather than
what should be.
- The freedom to choose what one
wants, rather than what one should want.
- The freedom to choose one's self-actualization,
rather than playing a rigid role.
Families work best when subsystem boundaries and interactions are
clear, chains of authority are visible, rules are spoken yet flexible
and stressors are confronted.
Members of healthy families can speak openly and affectionately to
one another. They know who's responsible for what. They can freely
discuss what behavior is permitted and what isn't, and they have
This training offers the essentials of systemic family coaching.
We build on your skills to explore the roles of individual and couple counseling and relationship ecology, family roles, family rules and
Contact us to solve emotional and relationship problems.
Family Coaching, Counseling & Systemic Therapy
I thought you were just
another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.
Plagiarism is theft. Copyright
© Martyn Carruthers 2002-2017 All rights reserved.