Systems Theory


What is Family Systems Theory?

Though it has been widely discussed, it’s surprisingly hard to define. Murray Bowen has a family systems theory—he and Michael Kerr described it in their 1988 book, Family Evaluation. More recently, Alan Carr (2016) described what he saw as the 20 hypotheses of family systems theory.
Jacob B. Priest, PhD

Historical Overview of Family Systems Theory

Beginning in the mid 20th century, the practice of family therapy began to coalesce around certain key theories and systems to form an approach by which future practitioners could base their observations and work for important changes for the health of individuals and relationships.
Tara Signs, PhD

Reimagining the Application of Systems Theory Via Teletherapy Interventions

Teletherapy allows us to connect with clients that we might not otherwise be able to reach. For those in rural communities where access to care has traditionally been a challenge, the rapid progression of teletherapy exponentially increased options available for treatment …
Rebecca Cobb, PhD

A Larger Systems Approach: Integrating Intersectionality into Family Systems Theory

“Power, privilege, oppression.” What was your reaction reading these words? For some, resiliency, for others vulnerability, but for all, critical. Now, how about “family systems theory?” For some comfortable, for others complexity, but for couple and family therapists (CFTs) and our work with families, critical.
Dumayi Gutierrez, PhD

Systems Theory Brings It All Together in Undergraduate Education

Undergraduate students are at a liminal place in life; new relationships, independence, and growth are bordered by past family structures and dynamics along with anticipation and preparation for a post-college future. This is an ideal time to introduce systems theory thinking by studying family systems theory (FST) and family ecological theory (FET).
Erica Kanewischer, PhD


A Message from the President

A Warm Salutation to Each of You

One of my favorite novels is The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak. Set in 1939 Munich, Death tells the story of an assembled “family” amid chaos, fear, book banning, and love. I’m re-reading this book right now.
Shelley A. Hanson, MA

Special to This Issue

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions: Considerations Regarding License Portability and Compacts

State licensure has provided many significant advantages for MFTs and their clients, and the long and ultimately successful battle to obtain licensure in all 50 states ranks as the most significant accomplishment in the growth of the profession in the United States.

Systemic World

The Role of Family Therapists and the Social Determinants of Health: A Systemic Investment in our Global Future

When we first proposed this series, we had envisioned it as a set of articles about systemic work that is responsive to global events. We believe systemic practitioners have a great deal to contribute to the global community.
Dorcas Matowe, PhD and Laurie L Charlés, PhD

Special to This Issue

President’s Statement Regarding CEO Todd’s Retirement

It is with hearts full of gratitude for all the work CEO Tracy Todd, PhD, has accomplished on behalf of the MFT profession and AAMFT, that the Board of Directors received his decision for a well-earned retirement in January of 2023.

Special to This Issue

CEO Tracy Todd, PhD, Announces Upcoming Retirement

The end of the line…Riding into the sunset…One chapter is closing, but another is beginning….Yeah, those cliches. After 10 years as CEO and 35 years of involvement with AAMFT, my race will be finished on January 31, 2023.


Transmitting Hypervigilance Through Intergenerational Trauma: Recommendations for Marriage and Family Therapists

African Americans have been shown to display distrust and hypervigilant behavior against people of authority and knowledge.
Tiffany D. J. Sanders and Eman Tadros, PhD


Understanding the Effects of Social Media on the Relationship Between Parents and Adolescents

Social media, accessed through electronic devices, has been positively correlated with depression and anxiety.
Christopher A. Chandroo, MS and Tziporah Rosenberg, PhD


The Cost of Chronic Infidelity on Spouses and Partners: Understanding Betrayal Trauma

Most betrayed partners are too ashamed to tell anyone about their horrifying discovery—even a therapist. They feel stupid for not knowing that their beloved was cheating and lying right under their nose for years.
Michele F. Saffier, MA


Supporting Children Through Their Grief Journey

An estimated 1 in 14, or 5.3 million, children in the U.S. will experience the death of a parent or sibling before they reach the age of 18.
Nancy L. Kriseman, MSW and Lane Pease Hendricks, MS


FTM is a connector to and from diverse family therapy practice, policy, supervision, and research leaders.

—Angela Lamson, PhD, LMFT

With cutting-edge and relevant articles, the FTM is the place I find practical systemic information.

—DeAnna Harris-McKoy, PhD

The magazine is great because it shows what other remarkable things my fellow colleagues are doing in the field.

—Sheldon Jacobs, PsyD, LMFT