Identity necessarily includes social relationships which are built into the self to varying degrees.The member/non-member distinction that is afforded by drawing an identity boundary applies not only to individuals, but also to social groups.Today's essay concerns the important contribution of the Family Systems school.Family Systems practitioners are the ecologists in my scheme for describing the various schools (Philosophers, Engineers, Ecologists and Gnostics: Four Approaches to Psychotherapy).The term originated within the field of Biology when the study of living systems such as oceans, forests and prairies revealed how inseparably interlinked many species are. Flowers require bees to pollinate for them so that they can reproduce, while bees require flower pollen for food, or whatever it is that they do with pollen.
After a two month break during which I seem to have facilitated a spirited discussion concerning the merits and failures of Alcoholics Anonymous, I'm now returning to my ongoing essay series concerning the technical contributions of various schools of psychotherapy to the psychotherapy process.
Walls, fences and cell membranes are examples of physical boundaries.
Psychological boundaries can be said to exist too, even though such boundaries have no physical reality.
Though individual species are distinct in form, they exist in context of a "whole cloth" community of species no part of which can be unraveled without unraveling the rest.
Though individual clinicians have grasped the intrinsically social and ecological nature of identity since the early days of therapy (e.g., Freud's idea of Transference, and contributions of lesser known but nevertheless important psychodynamic clinicians such as Harry Stack Sullivan), it was not until the 1950s and 60s that an organized and fully ecological vision of psychotherapy took shape in the form of what is today called Family Systems theory.