The ecosystemic “lens” to understanding family functioning

Michael S. Robbins, Carla C. Mayorga, José Szapocznik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Context has always played a critical role in couple and family theory. Pioneers of CFT championed a view that expanded the focus from an individual level to the larger contexts that contain individuals-with, of course, a primary emphasis on the family. Even the use of the term systems, a central theoretical base of virtually every couple and family approach, is rich with an understanding of context and contextual influence. Historically, context in CFT has not been solely limited to the nuclear family. For example, early approaches often considered the role of multiple generations within a family, other extended family members, as well as other important systems in the individuals’ and families’ social ecology in the evolution, maintenance, and treatment of a variety of problems (Boszormenyi-Nagy, 1987; Bowen, 1976; Framo, 1976; McGoldrick & Gerson, 1985; Speck & Attneave, 1973; Whitaker, 1975). Although this broader “ecological” focus has persisted over time, only recently has the “lens” been sharpened to include a more intensive focus on developing and testing integrated interventions that utilize social contextual frameworks for understanding and treating symptoms. Using this “ecosystemic lens,” a base of empirically supported intervention strategies has begun to emerge in CFT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Family Therapy
Subtitle of host publicationThe Science and Practice of Working with Families and Couples
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)020349041X, 9781135451318
ISBN (Print)1583913254, 9781583913260
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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