What is Family Systems Therapy?

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Family Systems Therapy is an approach to family counseling founded by Psychiatrist and Researcher Dr. Murray Bowen in the 1960s. It relies on Bowen’s Family Systems theory, which states that systems, like families, consist of parts affected by one another. This structure means that each family member affects the behaviors of others.

Family Systems Therapy aims to identify these interlocking systems that might result in negative relational patterns and address the causes so family members can relate better to one another.

Family System theory posits that every person can benefit from examining the patterns from their family of origin or the family they grew up with during their formative years. For some people, this could include their biological family, their adoptive family, or other key caregivers present in their early childhood.

While most commonly used in family counseling, counselors also can use Family Systems Therapy in individual or couples counseling.

Your therapist will ask questions about your family of origin and might even ask you to complete a genogram, which is a diagram of your family relationships going back as far as possible. The genogram ranges in detail but usually includes names of ancestors and family members, births, marriages, deaths, and sometimes mental illnesses if known. From there, your counselor might ask you to recall your relationships with your parents and siblings.

Family Systems Therapy helps you understand how your family relationships from childhood impact you today. By identifying emotions you experienced when you were younger regarding the way your family dealt with life, you may begin to get more clarity about the patterns you currently maintain while relating to your family, friends, significant other, or other loved ones. Your therapist then will help you establish more positive, adaptive ways of relating to others, which ultimately leads to growth and healing.

Therapists Who Specialize in Using Family Systems Therapy

Sydney believes everyone has a story worth telling and is worthy of a safe space to share. She is passionate about working with children, teenagers and young adults and seeing them grow. Whether you are looking for support for yourself or your child/ teenager Sydney encourages you to take that first step of courage and reach out!

Elizabeth Aulds, LMHC



Elizabeth is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with over 15 years of experience working with youth and adults going through life transitions, a history of trauma as the result of physical or sexual abuse, struggle with depression, anxiety, grief and loss.

Keri Downs



Therapy is an opportunity to gain insight, move towards personal growth, and build confidence in yourself. I enjoy working with children and adults and am trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. I believe that people are often stronger than they believe, and I will work to help you understand and value your strengths, while tackling the issues that brought you into therapy. My…

Lorraine Litovsky, LMHC

New York

New York

Struggling with anxiety, depression, relationship distress, low self-esteem, or simply need guidance on life’s journey? I provide a safe, judgement-free space for self-discovery & personal growth. Through active listening, thoughtful questioning, and evidence-based techniques, I will help you gain clarity, & set achievable goals towards health, healing, and happiness. If you seek greate...

Candice McDonald

Colorado Springs


When feelings of stress are beginning to build up and a loss of control seems to be more and more inevitable, I can help. If you are having difficulty dealing with every day life or that everyone is against you, then lets talk about it. Putting yourself first will help bring out the best version of yourself. By making the steps to seek counseling, you will develop skills to help when life throws…