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Assessing Family System Functioning

This activity is designed for use by the consultant in
assessing the level of dysfunction or disorganization within the family. It has
been adapted from a more general organizational crisis model and has real
utility for determining whether or not the family can benefit from this
educational approach.  The activity
identifies six variables on which the family is to be elevated by the
trainer.  Below each variable are four
descriptors related to the variable. 
Through observation and discussions with the family, the trainer should
simply determine which descriptor best describes the family in terms of the
variable in question.  For example, are
family relationships best described as fragmented, protective, supportive, or
interdependent.  For trainers for whom
the descriptors do not quickly communicate the concept or idea, reading the
discussion that follows the activity may be useful as a preliminary to
completing the activity for a specific family.

Once the family has been rated on all six variables, simply
add together the numerical values of the descriptors checked.  This will result in a family assessment score
from six to twenty-four.  Generally
speaking, families who function in the upper third of the range (19-24) are
excellent candidates for this educational approach.  Families who function in the lower third of
the range (6-12) may derive some benefit from the approach but will need
interventions that are considerably more comprehensive and therapeutically
powerful.  The trainer will probably get
somewhat mixed results with families in the middle third of the range.

Simply check the appropriate descriptor, noting the number
of the descriptor represents the numerical value for that descriptor.


1. Fragmented

2. Protective

3. Supportive

4. Interdependent

Extrafamilial Relationships

1. Disconnected

2. Alienated

3. Reciprocal (mutuality)

4. Coordinated


1. Random

2. Ritualized

3. Serial (searching)

4. Congruent

Decision Making

1. Paralyzed

2. Autocratic

3. Participatory

4. Task centered

Problem Solving

1. None

2. Mechanistic

3. Explorative

4. Flexible


1. None

2. Expedient

3. Synthesizing

4. Integrative

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