Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Holon in Family Systems Theory

  • Natasha SeiterEmail author
  • Amy D. Smith
  • Kelley Quirk
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_281

Name of Concept

Holon in Family Systems Theory


Subsystem in family systems theory


The term holon refers to a system that demonstrates both the independent characteristics of wholes and the dependent characteristics of parts (Koestler 1970). According to family systems theory, there are several interconnected systems that exist within the family system (Cox and Paley 1997; Fromme 2011), and family is a part of larger systems including extended family and community (Gehart 2018; Minuchin and Fishman 1981). A holon refers to such a subsystem that exists within a larger family system (Minuchin and Fishman 1981; Reuben and Shaw 2016; Shaw et al. 2004).

Theoretical Context for Concept

Theoretically, families engage in processes of self-organization and self-stabilization (Cox and Paley 1997). The process of self-stabilization (or self-correction) refers to the workings of feedback mechanisms that compensate for changes in components of the system and thus help in...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marriage and Family Therapy/Applied Developmental Science ProgramColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Human Development and Family StudiesColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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