Circumplex Model of Marital and Family Systems: I. Cohesion and Adaptability Dimensions, Family Types, and Clinical Applications

DAVID H. OLSON, DOUGLAS H. SPRENKLE, CANDYCE S. RUSSELL

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

905 Scopus citations

Abstract

The conceptual clustering of numerous concepts from family therapy and other social science fields reveals two significant dimensions of family behavior, cohesion and adaptability. These two dimensions are placed into a circumplex model that is used to identify 16 types of marital and family systems. The model proposes that a balanced level of both cohesion and adaptability is the most functional to marital and family development. It postulates the need for a balance on the cohesion dimension between too much closeness (which leads to enmeshed systems) and too little closeness (which leads to disengaged systems). There also needs to be a balance on the adaptability dimension between too much change (which leads to chaotic systems) and too little change (which leads to rigid systems). The model was developed as a tool for clinical diagnosis and for specifying treatment goals with couples and families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-28
Number of pages26
JournalFamily process
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1979

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