Systemic Conceptualization and Treatment
A systemic approach focuses the couple therapist’s attention not only on the individual but also on the interpersonal context in which the individual partners relate. Systems theory delineates the interrelatedness of family members to each other, with an understanding that the behavior of each member of a family cannot be understood and treated in isolation (Bevcar & Bevcar, 1999; Bowen, 1972). An ability central to systemic thinking is to differentiate linear conceptualizations and interventions from systemic ones. Many couple therapists have never made the conceptual transition from a more linear and individual approach to one that is more circular and systemic. Because a great deal of Western culture and psychotherapy education is designed around almost exclusively linear and individualistic ways of thinking, it is virtually impossible for some therapists to reorient their conceptual perspectives to include assessing, questioning, and intervening with clients in a circular, systemic manner. In contrast to a linear epistemology, which views reality as one event causing another in a linear fashion, circular epistemology embraces a circular model of causality that is multicausal and multidetermined.