Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Autopoiesis in Family Systems Theory

  • Michelle A. FinleyEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_244

Name of Concept



Living system; Self-regulating system


In the early development of family therapy, general systems theory offered a mechanistic view for explaining interactions among family members (Bateson 1972). Early family therapy work also was based on first-order cybernetics, which viewed families as self-stabilizing systems by employing homeostasis and feedback (Jackson 1957; Weiner 1948). These ideas focused on how family systems stabilize and organize. Family therapy underwent further refinement through the inclusion of second cybernetics, which focuses on processes such as positive feedback and deviation-amplification to explain how family systems are dynamic (Maruyama 1963). Autopoiesis originated in biology and was then adapted to other fields including family therapy (Mingers 1995). Family therapy theorists Dell (1982a, b, 1985), Keeney (1982), and Watzlawick (1984) brought the concept of autopoiesis to family therapy, which underscored a...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Antioch University SeattleSeattleUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • David Kearns
    • 1
  • Bahareh Sahebi
    • 2
  1. 1.Iowa CityUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA