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A system is a group of interacting parts that, through their interaction, form a complex whole. Couples and families are examples of living systems. Family systems theory (FST) is a means for understanding human groups through discerning patterned ways that these systems behave and interact. Assumptions about couples and families (and their patterns) can be made based on their structure (boundaries, hierarchy, overt rules, covert rules). The proposed explanation for how a particular couple or family interacts is called a systemic hypothesis. These hypotheses are made on the basis of general principles of systems along with observing the patterned way a particular system interacts. Systemic hypotheses help a clinician understand the functioning of a system and gain a working understanding of the influences that ...

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