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Defines its use in family systems theory; how it functions in therapy sessions.... More...
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Paper Abstract:
Defines its use in family systems theory; how it functions in therapy sessions.

Paper Introduction:
Triangling Introduction Family systems theory argues that interlocking triangles make up the relationship system in families and other groups. Triangling is an emotional process used by people in relationships to deal with anxiety and emotional reactivity. The triangle is the smallest stable relationship unit of an emotional system and it describes the dynamics of a three-person system. Anxiety is the major influence on the activity of a triangle. When anxiety is low, a relationship between two people can be calm and comfortable. However, high levels of anxiety caused by internal and external emotional forces disturb the equilibrium of the relationship. When the level of anxiety in a relationship increases, a third person usually becomes involved in the tension of the twoso

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Now she pleads with the daughter to'talk to your brother.'[9] Thus, the level to which a family relies on triangling to reduce itslevel of anxiety is based on the functional level of differentiation ofeach member of the family and the family system as a whole. [9] Ibid. But noone person takes responsibility for managing her own anxiety.[11]Detriangling Family systems theory maintains that the tension in a two-personrelationship will resolve automatically when contained within a system ofthree persons, when one of the three is emotionally detached.[12] The thirdperson, however, must have sufficient emotional contact with the other twowhile remaining emotionally separate from them. Kerr, Michael. Let us assume in the example of the mother-father-son triangle givenabove that the father was subsequently trained in the process ofdetriangling. Thus, they do not possess the skills necessary todeal with intense emotionally charged situations. Thus, she can identify this process tothe triangle's participants in an attempt to end the reactive, destructivebehavior. Bibliography Kerr, Kathleen. (1988), 54. While the mother'sactivity in the above example may appear obvious, the method she uses totriangle the father may consist only of subtle cues that she wishes him tointercede. The more undifferentiated andreactionary each person's response, the greater the tendency towardtriangling and interlocking triangles. Or, in other cases, when the daughtersenses that the level of anxiety between her parents is increasing, shewill make herself a problem to reduce the tension between them.[5] Triangling occurs most frequently in undifferentiated family systems.A lack of differentiation occurs in families composed of individuals whoare undifferentiated. He would then ask her what behavior of theson's has caused her unhappiness and how they can deal with it together.Such a response would create a feeling of togetherness between the motherand father. Instead, emotional neutrality means the ability to defineoneself without an emotional investment in one's viewpoint or in changingthe viewpoints of others.[16] In other words, an emotionally neutral personis aware of his own position on a given subject but does not feel the needto assert that position over others or to change others' viewpoints tocoincide with his own. This third personinstigates a process of detriangling through which the twosome will bringtheir relationship back into equilibrium.[13] Detriangling focuses on the emotional processes between people andevents.[14] Family systems theory advocates an emotionally neutral attitudethat allows the participants to see the systems or processes that governtheir behavior. A completely differentiatedindividual keeps any problems with the relationship within the relationshipbecause she does not seek to lessen anxiety by bringing in a third person.Thus, such a person effectively prevents triangling before it can occur. [3] Kerr, M. [2] Kerr, Kathleen. Incases where a differentiated person becomes the third leg of a twosome'striangle, she can begin the process of detriangling by using her emotionalneutrality to identify the problem behavior. Georgetown University Family Center, 1982. [12] Ibid., 55. Consequently, duringperiods of tension or high stress they react inappropriately to escape thetensions of the relationship.[6] They do so by shifting the tension to thelegs of the triangle removed from them. [16] Ibid. (1988), 53. However, when levelsof anxiety become too much for the central triangle, family members maythen rely on other family triangles, or triangles from their work, school,or other social systems.[8] When the members of the central triangle areunable to shift their anxiety to another member of that immediate triangle,the member will shift the anxiety to another interlocking triangle. September, 1988. An individual'sfunctional level of differentiation at any given time is based on thatindividual's ability to confront his anxieties in a thoughtful manner thatexamines his emotional response. (1988), 54. [17] Ibid. It is important to understand thattriangling occurs as a reaction rather than an action and thus, the familyis usually unaware of how often and how predictably they have played theseroles.Interlocking Triangles Interlocking triangles occur when any one triangle cannot contain itsparticipants' anxiety.[7] Generally, a relatively calm family will relyonly on one central triangle to contain its anxiety. First, theemotionally neutral person can see the relationship processes of thetriangle and second, she can see these processes for what they are, ratherthan for what they should be.[17] Because she is emotionally neutral andaware of the relationship processes of the triangle, she can recognize whencommunication is a reflection of a triangle and not a straightforwardcommunication between two people. The daughter reacts sympathetically to the mother's concerns,making the husband the outsider. It would also mean the father could operate as an emotionallyneutral person in the subsequent discussion between the mother and the son.Conclusion Triangling is a form of dysfunction within the family system causedby each individual's lack of differentiation. [6] Kerr, M. Each person's functional level also determines her role in thefunction of the triangle. [15] Ibid. The father, who is unaware of thehistorical nature of this behavior within the family system, reacts to hercues by engaging with the son. The mother maythen rely on another triangle of which she is a member, which includesherself, her son, and her daughter. [8] Kerr, M. Whenanxiety is low, a relationship between two people can be calm andcomfortable. Chronic Anxiety and Defining A Self. Triangling is rarely obvious to its participants. Consequently, that individual's responseto anxiety will affect every other person in the triangle's response basedon each person's functional level. TrianglingIntroduction Family systems theory argues that interlocking triangles make up therelationship system in families and other groups.[1] Triangling is anemotional process used by people in relationships to deal with anxiety andemotional reactivity.[2] The triangle is the smallest stable relationshipunit of an emotional system and it describes the dynamics of a three-personsystem. "An Overview of Bowen Theory and Organizations,"Understanding Organizations. [4] Kerr, K., 4. Thus, triangling serves as a means of constantly shiftinganxiety within the family relationship, but it does not remove the anxietyor the source of the anxiety. In atriangle, one person often acts as the anxiety 'generator,' another as theanxiety 'amplifier,' and the third as the anxiety 'dampener.'[1 ] Theseroles have been learned through the usual functioning of the family system,each person reacting to the levels of anxiety created by the other. Whenthe level of anxiety in a relationship increases, a third person usuallybecomes involved in the tension of the twosome, thereby creating atriangle.[3]Triangling Triangling is always operating within the family system; however, itappears more clearly during times of high anxiety.[4] For example, ahusband and wife may operate as a couple. (Georgetown University Family Center,1982), 123. Anxiety is the major influence on the activity of a triangle. The next time the mother began to give cues that she wishedthe father to intercede with the son, the father could respond to her bysaying that he can see from her behavior that she is unhappy with the sonand she wishes him to intercede. "An Overview of Bowen Theory and Organizations,"Understanding Organizations. [13] Ibid. [11] Ibid. However,whenever problems within the marital relationship arise, the wife turns tothe daughter for emotional support, thereby using the third leg of thetriangle. An emotionally neutral person who is connected to a triangle canreduce the tension within the triangle with her neutrality. However, Kerr notes that in such a situation, theson may attempt to relieve his own anxiety by now pleading with his motherto intercede. (Georgetown University Family Center, 1982),4. [1 ] Ibid. [5] Ibid. (September,1988), 52. A person's functional level is based on theirlevel of reactivity to other's people's emotional activity. For example, she may use her body language through facialexpressions or her refusal to interact with her son to indicate to thefather that she wants him to intercede. Forexample, suppose in the case given above that the father refuses to bedrawn in and tells the mother she must discipline the child. Now, tension rises between the father and the son andthe mother can withdraw. [14] Ibid., 57. Thus, one'sfunctional level is a learned response to another person's behavior. Nor does it mean alack of judgment about people's actions or a failure to advocate one sideover the other. For example, a mother is finding it difficult to discipline her son.In an attempt to reduce her own anxiety, she calls upon the father tohandle the matter. Adherents of the theory believe that the more one can beemotionally neutral about the relationship process between others, the moreeffective will be the detriangling maneuver.[15] Emotional neutrality does not require a lack of approval ordisapproval of particular aspects of human behavior. When the level of anxiety withinthe marital relationship is low, the couple is comfortable and close andtheir daughter operates primarily outside the relationship. However, high levels of anxiety caused by internal andexternal emotional forces disturb the equilibrium of the relationship. [7] Kerr, Michael, "Application of Family Systems Theory to a WorkSystem," Understanding Organizations. Georgetown University Family Center,1988.----------------------- [1] Kerr, Michael. Kerr, Michael, "Application of Family Systems Theory to a WorkSystem," Understanding Organizations. Chronic Anxiety and Defining A Self.

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