Mapping family dynamics through the Kinetic Family Drawing and Family Environment Scale

Cynthia Jean Barkdull, Marquette University

Abstract

Instead of focusing on the individual, family therapists focus on the person within the family. The theory of family therapy is that man is not an isolate and his experience is determined by his interaction within his family environment. Families, through the course of their development, fashion fundamental and enduring assumptions about the world in which they live. These assumptions or family beliefs become the core of an individual's membership in his or her own family. However, the family is not a static entity but instead is subjected to demands for change through death, divorce, or daily stressors. Theoretically, families which are inflexible in the face of such changes often appear to distort the world and may promote psychopathology in one family member as an attempt at stabilization and resolution. A family counselor, then, would need to form a cognitive map of a family's beliefs and interactions to aid in conceptual thinking, to help in developing diagnostic hypotheses, and for therapeutic interventions. The purpose of this dissertation is to compare two different diagnostic measures which purport to map family dynamics through comparing the concurrent responses of members from dysfunctional families. Thirty-five single parent-child pairs were evaluated using the Kinetic Family Drawing and Family Environment Scale, following referral to a mandated private mental health outpatient clinic due to problematic behavior of the child. Results were supportive of a world view solidarity within families and of the cybernetic concept of viewing the family as a homeostatic system. In addition, primary concerns for relationship dimensions of openness and support were noted between parents and children. Issues of self-sufficiency, heightened conflict, and lowered family involvement in external activities were also expressed. The comparison of two diagnostic measures exhibited greater reliability in obtaining viewpoint similarities from the Family Environment Scale. However, both instruments were helpful in generating hypotheses and in designing therapeutic interventions.

Recommended Citation

Barkdull, Cynthia Jean, "Mapping family dynamics through the Kinetic Family Drawing and Family Environment Scale" (1989). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9009970.
https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI9009970

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