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Olson's Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems

  • By: Loretta L. Pecchioni
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

David H. Olson proposed the circumplex model of marital and family systems in order to meet two primary goals: (1) to provide a concrete means for applying general systems theory (GST) to dynamic family processes; and (2) to reduce the number of related concepts into a simpler, yet rich, system for examining those processes. GST—which, when applied to families, is called family systems theory (FST)—argues that the members of a family are interdependent and that families inherently undergo change related to normal developmental processes and crises. While this underlying theoretical perspective provides a powerful means of understanding the dynamics of family behaviors, Olson believed it was important to be able to identify and measure these processes in a clinical setting so as to provide a ...

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