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Enmeshment in Couples and Families

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Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

Name of concept

Enmeshment

Synonyms

Overinvolvement

Introduction

Salvador Minuchin (1974) used the term enmeshment to describe the overinvolved relationships that develop from diffuse boundaries within family systems and between family members and other systems. Enmeshed families or subsystems are characterized by a high level of communication and lesser levels of distance, and differentiation (Minuchin 1974). Structural concepts, including enmeshment, were foundational to the field of Marriage and Family Therapy and remain vital tools for systemic assessment and treatment (Fishman 2012; McAdams et al. 2016; Nichols and Davis 2017). Its established position in the field notwithstanding, the concept of enmeshment has been reexamined over the years by various theorists who have suggested adjustments to its usage.

Theoretical Context for Enmeshment

The theoretical context for the concept of enmeshment is Structural Family Therapy (SFT), which was developed by Salvator Minuchin. SFT posits...

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References

  • Bograd, M. (1988). Enmeshment, fusion or relatedness? Journal of Psychotherapy & The Family, 3(4), 65–80. https://doi.org/10.1300/j287v03n04_05.

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  • Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy. London: Routledge.

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Correspondence to Teresa D’Astice .

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D’Astice, T., Russell, W.P. (2019). Enmeshment in Couples and Families. In: Lebow, J.L., Chambers, A.L., Breunlin, D.C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_1021

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