Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Closed Systems in Family Systems Theory

  • Dawn M. WirickEmail author
  • Lee A. Teufel-Prida
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_249

Name of Theory

Closed Systems in Family Systems Theory


A closed system refers to a self-contained family system that employs impervious boundaries with the outside world (Simon et al. 1985). Due to its impermeable boundary system with extrafamilial contexts, a closed system resists influences to change. Minimal interactions with the outside environment render the family system unable to accommodate significant social demands from external social institutions (Minuchin 1974). Failing to integrate information external to the closed system demonstrates the system’s challenges with navigating the change/continuity continuum. Due to rigid external boundaries and minimal interaction with the extrafamilial environment, family members navigate change/continuity primarily via an internal channel. Therefore, external information used to balance change and continuity does not figure centrally into a closed system, thereby increasing isolation and familial dysfunction (Minuchin 1974).

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • David Kearns
    • 1
  • Bahareh Sahebi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA