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Cybernetics and Social Construction in Family Therapy Essay (Critical Writing)

The function of the concepts and how they fit into world view as a family therapist

Cybernetics helps in the development of therapy because of its role in examining systems. A family is a form of a system, and Cybernetics is the study of systems of all kinds. Within cybernetics, there is the concept of feedback. In family therapy, feedback helps to determine the appropriate actions to take.

Positive feedback changes the same action in future, while negative feedback lets the action stays the same. Thus, though cybernetics, it is possible to bring out appropriate actions based on the analysis of feedback during family therapy (Sayre, 2015).

The social constructionism theory explains that meanings are developed through social interactions, and they arise where there is social consensus. It emphasizes that ideas crisscross. Thus, meanings can change in people’s conversations with one another.

Meanings are relevant according to their contexts, and value rests with the adoption of a not-knowing approach that is essential for grasping the nature of human problems. Besides, social construction follows a generative approach and relies on narratives and cultural framework. It uses language and meaning as its underpinnings for practice (Lock & Strong, 2010).

Analysis of major theorists involved in the development of each theory placed within the historical context of the profession

Some of the major theorists of cybernetics are Murray Browen, Carl Whitaker, Virginia Satir, and Jay Haley. Bowen developed the Bowenian family therapy theory that shows families as complex social systems (Efran, Mcnamee, Warren, & Raskin, 2014).

They could be understood through relationships that cover many generations, and, therefore, the proper way to analyze them would be by coming up with a family genogram. It serves as a map that shows the relationship between members and can help the members to understand their entanglements and alliances.

However, even therapists seeking to help families might end up being enmeshed with their client’s family problems. Thus they must identify their own feelings, and thoughts are separate from that of other family members that they are helping (Sayre, 2015).

Whitaker used the background study of schizophrenics and their families to arrive at the conclusion that unhealthy communication and other behavioral patterns correlated with schizophrenic client’s families. Also, the theorist noted that every patient is a therapist to another member of the family and can be helped by another member of the family.

The main function of therapy, according to Whitaker, was to promote growth and development of the family, and the therapy was to aid this development in identifying symbols and their meaning to the members.

Satir believed that families had healthy intentions, and they lost their ways, as they did not know appropriate ways of communicating or expressing their intentions. Some members of the family end up taking the responsibility of rebalancing relationships and therefore face a burden of trying to fix the problems.

Lastly, Haley was instrumental in developing the field of strategic family therapy, where the preference was on individualized treatment. Thus, strategic therapists would develop tools for their work according to the unique needs of the families that they work with (Sayre, 2015).

Analysis of major theorists involved in the social development constructionism placed within the historical context of the profession

The main theorists involved in the development of social constructionism were divided into modernist and post-modernist periods. Hoffman was among the first theories to expand knowledge on social constructionism. The first contribution was the separation of constructivism with constructionism while still acknowledging that the concepts are related.

Constructionism sees the creation of meaning as an intersubjective feature of social relationships with others. This then became the foundation of social constructionism as being about the relationship instead of an individual. Eventually, it developed the field of therapy using this theory to see the practice as relational and about the creation of meaning in community with others (Hair & Fine, 2012).

Other theorists like Michael White, David Epstpon, and Gene Combs set up new assumptions to building on the foundations of social constructionism. They represent post-modernist therapy, where the general view is that human beings are interpretive. They are active in the interpretation of and giving meaning to their experience according to the way they live their lives.

Being able to interpret allows them to see it as an achievement. Besides, interpretations are not made in vacuums. Rather personal stories or self-narratives function as the origins of the frame of intelligibility for our lived experience. They developed the foundations of narrative family therapy that would recognize a storied life being a multiverse where there are many stories yet to be told (Lock & Strong, 2010).

Differentiation of how the issue of social justice is addressed in both cybernetics and social construction theories

Therapists seek to promote human development and the common good through their work, where they address challenges that cover individuals and distributive justice in families. The therapy sessions help to empower individuals by paying attention to equity, access, participation, and harmony principles. Equity covers the fair distribution of resources and rights to society members while access is about the ability of people to get and use resources, services, power, and information so that they get a respectable standard of living and can self-determine and develop as humans.

Through participation, people continue to gain the meaning of their world and be part of decisions that influence personal lives and other people’s lives. Social justice is about advocacy, yet many therapists may not identify their work as advocacy (Griffin, 2011).

In cybernetics, social justice is a mentality affecting the way systems works. By issuing moral and prudential values for directing the behaviors of members of a system such as a family, society ensures that the group has broad and fine-tuning controls.

These controls help in enabling the social group or family to adapt to its changing environment. Cybernetics brings forth the understanding that a person’s behavior as part of a system is governed by different values, and social justice can be one of the values, which end up influencing the individual’s social life (Sayre, 2015).

Relevant concepts found within cybernetics

The double-bind concept noted that irresolvable communicational conundrums in families were responsible for bringing schizophrenia. Thus, the concept elaborated that the victim is the person who becomes psychotically unwell and enters into a communicational matrix. In this matrix, messages contradict each other, and the victim is unable to communicate the contradictions. Besides, the victim is unable to leave the field of interaction (Gibney, 2006).

On the other hand, feedback offers people a place to justify their behavior in patterned relations. The feedback has to reach a particular threshold in a positive or negative direction to justify new behaviors that are disruptive to the recursiveness that an individual may have developed. Feedback loops arise when there are un-preferred patterns of relating that lead to changes in behavior or arise from changes in behavior.

They can be considered as sources used to correct abnormalities, create stability, and change in families when employing the cybernetics theory (Lock & Strong, 2010).

The not-knowing concept within cybernetics shows that there is no way of being certain about reality. By applying this concept, a therapist will create an atmosphere of curiosity, openness, and respect to lead to a realization that the therapist only offers partial answers to the way the behaviors of family members are supposed to be.

Relevant concepts found within social constructionism theory

The concept of narratives is the basis of communication and helps to build an understanding of reality. They also carry meanings that are transitional based in the context of developing and issuing the narratives. Every person is capable of having a self-narrative or personal story that determines his or her exact shape of expressions. It may also dictate particular aspects of their lived experiences.

Evaluation of the impact of the theories of the field and practice of marriage and family therapy

Social constructionism has led family therapists to stop debating with what is healthy or unhealthy when dialoguing with clients. They view their practice as having an ethical obligation to coordinate disparate logics and discourses irrespective of the exact discipline used after the realization that, in real truth and values are commonly owned and not individually owned. The therapist acts as a learner and can accept all ideas from a position of curiosity.

Following the theory, therapists have relied on narratives to get meanings and understandings. The theory sees therapy as a linguistic event that has the therapist playing the role of a conversational artist. Postmodern social constructionism has developed two-way dialogical processes that therapists and clients use to co-explore and co-create meaningful understandings that associate with the clients’ problems and agency. This approach diverts away from the use of scripted techniques (Gehart, 2014).

The social constructionism theory has helped therapists to see clients in the initial sessions as the experts in the situation because they have more content on the situation than the therapist does. Cybernetics has helped therapists to seek the development of positive feedback loops so that they can shake up the family system and correct problems expressed by clients and their family members.

The couple and family therapy use the theory to encourage the removal of equilibrium of the preferred safe ways of relating that are unhealthy (Neukrug, 2015). After doing this, couples and families can explore new ways of relating while realizing the materialization of new or existing negative and positive feedback loop systems.

Reflective Summary

Family therapists can have any number of theoretical orientations and may embrace the cybernetics approach for behavior focus. This will allow them to view individuals as coordinated elements in a larger system affected by its environment. The constituents of the environment are partners and family members.

Besides, the therapists may lean towards the social constructionism approach where the common belief is that there is no single true reality. Instead, individuals construct their meaning from language as it is used in their social settings. Also, some assumptions would be made based on the settings of practice, the expertise of the therapist, and opportunities for following through with the concepts of the various theories.


Efran, J., Mcnamee, S., Warren, B., & Raskin, J. (2014). Personal construct psychology, radical constructivism, and social constructionism: A dialogue. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 27(1), 1-13.

Gehart, D. (2014). Mastering competencies in family therapy: A practical approach to theories and clinical case documentation (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishers.

Gibney, P. (2006). The double bind theory: Still crazy-making after all these years. Psychotherapy in Australia, 12(3), 48-55.

Griffin, S. M. (2011). Reflection on the social justice behind children’s tales of in- and out-of-school music experiences. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, 188, 77-92.

Hair, H. J., & Fine, M. (2012). Social constructionism and supervision: Experiences of AAMFT supervisors and supervised therapists. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(4), 604-620.

Lock, A., & Strong, T. (2010). Social constructionism: Sources and stirrings in theory and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Neukrug, E. (2015). The world of the counselor: An introduction to the counseling profession. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Sayre, K. (2015). Cybernetics and the philosophy of mind. New York, NY: Routledge.

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