A family is more than a collection of related people who live together; it is perhaps best understood as a complex, interwoven system. Each family system organizes itself into smaller subsystems in order to perform necessary functions, maintain stability, and meet the developmental needs of its members. Sometimes these subsystems are organized by generation or by similar characteristics (e.g., gender, likes and dislikes, jobs in the family). How the family system organizes itself into these subsystems and the ways in which power and control are distributed and organized between parents and their children is referred to as the family hierarchy. This entry provides an overview of the origin of hierarchy as a construct within family counseling, a discussion of the types of hierarchical structures typically ...

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