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A family is a system of individuals who are intricately connected through one or more of the following: biology, legal circumstances, cultural history, emotional context, or implied future goals. Within the context of family therapy, the family is defined as a unit, or system. The counselor assesses system health by collecting diagnostic information from initial interviews with family members to identify which family subsystems are functioning maladaptively by identifying system properties, roles, and rules. Examples of system properties are values, identity, priorities, developmental stage, communication styles, nurturance level, location, and system status (growing, stuck, or decaying). A family functions, even when behaving in a dysfunctional manner, because it is a unified living entity, which features many interrelated dynamics and communication patterns. This entry first describes ...

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