SA 1: Family of Origin

SA 1: Family of Origin

The first purpose of this assignment is to increase your knowledge and understanding of your family-of-origin relationship patterns, specifically as related to the Bowen and structural system theories.

The second purpose of this assignment is to increase your awareness and knowledge regarding key cultural and community variables that influence, and are influenced by, your family-of-origin perspectives, beliefs, and values.

The final purpose of this assignment is for you to become more aware of how the family of origin and community cultures of origin may impede or facilitate treatment with couples and families. For example, counselors’ assumptions about the “right” way to be in a family or rigid goals for a couple/family in crisis could be very problematic for treatment and ultimately harmful to the couple/family. All systems models address inadequate/ineffective family functioning and “normal” family functioning and relationship patterns. Thus, it is not assumed that your family has a hidden pathology to be discussed but, instead, that you become much more aware of your family-of-origin influences as related to relational functioning in the Bowen model and in the structural model. Keep in mind that family relation patterns exist at all times.

To effectively attempt this assignment, reflect on your family of origin from the perspective of a family theorist, not as a clinician. Specific assignment questions are listed below, along with suggested ways of thinking about the assignment questions. Additionally, you are offered a list of potential signs where you might be off track with the assignment (see list below).


In an 8- to 10-page Microsoft Word document, respond to the following:

  • Evaluate the relational patterns in your family of origin, not yourself, in relation to the concept of differentiation. Your evaluation should incorporate three other related Bowenian concepts, such as emotional triangles, sibling position/birth order, the multigenerational transmission process, the nuclear family emotional system, the family projection process, and emotional cutoff/fusion. Please note that you cannot use the concept of the societal emotional process to answer this question.

SuggestionsPlease note that you are not providing an exhaustive assessment of every Bowenian concept for every generation of your family. For example, if electing to discuss triangles, you might identify a frequently occurring triangle (e.g., the “perfect” child, the sibling of the “troubled” child, and the father) and provide examples of how this triangle is evident across generations in the family.

  • Evaluate the relational patterns in your family or origin, not yourself, according to structural family theory. Your evaluation should incorporate four structural concepts, such as subsystems, boundaries, family structure, and cross-generational coalitions. Please note that you cannot use the concept of societal structure to answer this question. 

SuggestionsRemain cognizant that structural theory, for the purposes of this assignment, can be utilized to focus on two generations of your family system, such as parent and child generations. Additionally, it might be best to describe your family of origin at a particular point in time (e.g., when you were an adolescent or when you were in grades 1 and 2) to narrow in on the specific structural concept as applied to your family.

  • Reflect on your family of origin, not yourself, in relation to perspectives, beliefs, and values associated with race over two or three generations. This question may be answered in relation to the races in your family of origin or in relation to the concept of race as applied to those outside your family of origin. Provide two or three examples from your family of origin to answer this question.
  • Reflect on your family of origin, not yourself, in relation to perspectives, beliefs, and values related to ethnicity and culture over two or three generations. This question may include a discussion of acculturation status, immigration status, and refugee status of your family of origin. Provide two or three examples from your family of origin to answer this question.
  • Reflect on your family of origin, not yourself, in relation to gender roles and expectations over two or three generations. Provide two or three examples from your family of origin to answer this question.
  • Reflect on your family of origin, not yourself, in relation to one diversity variable over two or three generations that you have not discussed in the assignment. Examples include spirituality and/or religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, military involvement, socioeconomic status, or disability.

SuggestionsTo answer this question, you may select a diversity variable with a positive connotation in your family (e.g., “Faith was important in our family”), a diversity variable with a negative connotation in your family (e.g., “We were always told to not join the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps or the military”), or a diversity variable that was relatively absent from discussions and did not carry a negative or positive connotation (e.g., “Looking back, I see that our family was upper middle class, yet we never really discussed our socioeconomic status and how that was different in other families”).

  • Provide a clear and specific discussion linking two family-of-origin influences with two relational assets and twofamily-of-origin influences with two relational challenges you bring to the treatment processes. Note: You must also provide a brief discussion regarding how you will address one family-of-origin challenge. 

SuggestionsTo answer this question, connect your answers from other parts of the assignment and discuss the implications for being a counselor with couples and families. For example, “In discussing the triangles in my family, I see how I am the ‘perfect child’ and how that could impede my work with a family with a ‘troubled child’.” In particular, it could lead me to overidentify with the ‘perfect child’ and lose sight of the family system and actually participate with the family in its view of the problem. . .. The way I will be alert to this potential challenge is. . .” The question may also be answered with regard to your learning from the questions mentioned in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth bullet points above. For example, “I realize that my family did not have a positive view of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, the military, or law enforcement. I see how I might initially react to a family whose goals are just that—to join the military—and how I might diminish these deeply held values by a family. In doing so, I stay loyal to my family of origin and might not engage in ethical or effective treatment for the family. Although such career choices are important to examine across generations, it is essential that I understand and honor a family’s values while assisting it with changes and possible new directions.”

Note: This is a complex assignment yet achievable and of high interest to most students. Contact your instructor with questions or concerns at any point in working on the assignment.

Your final document should utilize a minimum of six scholarly references (the textbook and one article from required class readings may be utilized as two of these references). It should be written in a clear, concise, and organized manner; demonstrate ethical scholarship in accurate representation and attribution of sources; and display accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation following current APA style. The Turnitin score for this assignment should not exceed 20%.

You are also encouraged to review and follow APA guidelines for use of unbiased language. NoteAs this assignment requires a discussion of your family of origin/community of origin in all sections, the use of “I” and “my” are acceptable in areas of the assignment clearly related to your family of origin/community of origin.

Submission Detail:

  • By the due date assigned, save your Microsoft Word document as M5_SA1_LastName_FirstInitial.doc and submit it to the Submissions Area.

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