Some of the many influences on family dynamics include: nature of the parents’ relationship having a particularly soft or strict parent number of children in the family personalities of family members an absent parent – – – – – the ‘mix’ of members who are living in the same household level and type of influence from extended family or others a chronically sick or disabled child within the family events which have affected family members, such as an affair, divorce, trauma, death, unemployment, homelessness other issues such as family violence, abuse, alcohol or other drug use, mental health difficulties, other disability family values, culture and ethnicity, including beliefs about gender roles, parenting practices, power or status of family members nature of attachments in family (ie secure, insecure) dynamics of previous generations (parents and grandparents families) broader systems- social, economic, political including poverty
Traditional therapies have focused on problems, deficits and ‘risks’. Strengths-based practice, which arises from the Family Systems Theory tradition, aims to bring strengths of individuals and family systems into therapeutic awareness.
This approach does not ignore the seriousness of risk and/or abuse, but intends to bring a more accurate and balanced picture to light, when appropriate. For example, it may involve exploring how a behaviour or dynamic may be adaptive or functional within the family system, or may involve reclaiming a particular behaviour in a positive light. This approach facilitates change and growth by building self-confidence, optimism, motivation and a sense of empowerment.
A strengths-based approach helps a client to identify their coping capacities and strengths to build a reality in which they are able to cope more effectively.
Exploring family dynamics with a young person helps you to understand their behaviour and difficulties in context and enables more effective interventions. Family dynamics include family alignments, hierarchies, roles, ascribed characteristics and patterns of interactions within a family. Where possible, use a strengths-based approach when exploring family dynamics, and identify strengths or ways a pattern serves those involved.
Also identify patterns that are problematic and may need to be challenged. Listen to the young person’s narrative about their family, paying attention to and eliciting family relationship patterns and interpretations, including during conflicts (e.g. what happens then? How did you react?)