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The System Theoretical Analysis: A Starting Point in Family and Couple Psychotherapeutic Treatment


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Family psychotherapy is a treatment method that enables a change in the relationships that create and maintain certain psychological or physical symptoms in children, adolescents, and adults. The basis of family psychotherapy is the assumption that symptoms of mental and physical ill-health can arise and be sustained by and in various systems of relationships.

The theoretical foundations of family psychotherapy are primarily system theory, cybernetics, and communication theory. However, for theories not to remain theoretical arguments, they need to be linked to the clinical level with the help of a system theoretical analysis to visualize and understand the interaction in the unique family system and, against this background, design a hypothesis for treatment.

The book describes the theories that form the basis of family psychotherapy and provides concrete examples of how these theories are linked to different families and couples in the system theoretical analysis. It concludes with a table of terms with primary and secondary sources indicated.

The book is aimed at family psychotherapy students as well as students studying to become psychotherapists, doctors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists, among others. It can also serve as a refresher and basic book for established family psychotherapists and supervisors. Even an interested general public who wonders what family psychotherapy entails can enjoy the book.


  • Background to the system theoretical analysis
  • System theory in family psychotherapy
  • System levels
  • Family Psychotherapy Approaches
  • Family Psychotherapy based on First-Order Cybernetics
  • Family Psychotherapy based on Second-Order Cybernetics

The theory of the system theoretical analysis

General System Theory

  • Definition of system and family system


  • Axiom homeostasis
  • Axiom feedback processes

Communication Theory

Family Structure

The family life cycle

Family sociogram

The clinical practice of system theoretical analysis 73

System theory in family psychotherapy

Examples of system theoretical analyses

Healthcare ideology in mental illness

The therapist in system theoretical family psychotherapy

Table of basic concepts (74) and their primary sources, as well as reference literature.