Family Systems Theory views individuals within the context of the “systems”, or family relationships, of which they are a part and sees the family as an emotional unit. This theory suggests that behavior is both informed by and, in some ways, inseparable from the functioning of one’s family.
Family Systems Theory was developed by Murray Bowen, MD, in the 1960’s. His theories became an alternative to the highly pathologizing language for individuals with emotional distress. He also believed that all therapists needed to learn about the ways they were influenced by their families of origin, that this knowledge would help them better understand human behavior, and, thus, allow them to provide better treatment for their clients.
Family Systems Theory is one of the foundations of graduate programs for Marriage and Family Therapists, such as The University of San Diego, where I graduated with my Master's Degree in 1994.