Family Stress and Counseling

  • Marjorie Guthrie
  • Max Zubatsky
  • Craig W. Smith
Living reference work entry


Stress is a continually growing concern in our society. The impact of stress on mental health and physical illness can be significant and a major factor in healthcare costs in the United States. A large percentage of Americans report feeling moderate-to-high stress levels on a daily basis [1]. When stress extends to include family and social aspects of one’s life, complexities can exist beyond just individual coping of a situation or event. Stress has been seen by both patients and physicians as influencing health outcomes. However, stress is often difficult to define and study, in relation to both physical symptoms and external causes [2]. Family stress can be viewed as a disturbance in the ongoing state of a family system. This disturbance can occur both outside of the system (e.g., war, unemployment, natural disaster) and inside the family system (e.g., death, divorce, chronic illness). This systemic stress creates a change in the family’s routine functioning [3]. Normative stressors (e.g., birth of a child, job transition, loss of an older adult) in families are considered to be common and predictable sources of stress. Nonnormative family stressors (e.g., early widowhood, job loss, natural disaster) are uncommon and unexpected and may occur at times other than those expected in the life cycle of the family or its members [4, 5]. How well the family unit copes with these two types of stressors largely impacts both the short-term and long-term adjustments and well-being of both the unit and the individuals in it.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Chronic Stress Motivational Interview Acute Stress 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marjorie Guthrie
    • 1
  • Max Zubatsky
    • 2
  • Craig W. Smith
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Family and Community MedicineSt. Louis UniversityBellevilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family and Community MedicineSt. Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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