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Families in Motion

Families in Motion
Dynamics in Diverse Contexts

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December 2019 | 416 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Dynamics of the family can be seen as a complex set of interrelated cogs, like the dials and wheels within a sophisticated timepiece. Families in Motion: Dynamics in Diverse Contexts is a clear, comprehensive, and contextual view of how the dials and wheels of that complex set work together. With a focus on multicultural competence through diverse contexts and examples, this new text explores the complexities of the family regarding roles, functions, and development in a way that is approachable for students. Grounded in theory and using 40 years of academic experience, author Clara Gerhardt guides readers through concepts of family theories and examines the ever-changing movement, communication, and conditions of both the family as a system and each member within the system. Covering approaches from the theoretical to the therapeutic, Families in Motion will support students in extending their cultural competence while understanding families and their members with greater confidence. 

Part I: The Dynamic Family System
Chapter 1: Family Dynamics: Setting Families in Motion
Family Dynamics: Meaning

Lifespan Development and Family Dynamics

Why Study Family Dynamics?

Defining Families

Census Definitions

Diverse Families

The Family as a System

Functions of the Family

Spotlight on Theories: Theories, Psychoanalysis and Family Dynamics

Chapter 2: Dimensions That Influence Dynamics
Tasks, Structure, and Context

The Influences on Dynamics

The Choreography of the Family Dance

Patterns of Family Interaction

Spotlight on Theories: Family Dynamics and Ecological Systems Theory

Chapter 3: Dynamic Family Commitments
The Circle of Safety

Launching and Landing

The Family Orchestra

Shaping the Dynamics of the System

Dysfunctional Families

Spotlight on Theories: Family Systems Theory

Chapter 4: Observing Dynamics in Motion
Observing Families

Making Dynamics Visible

Cultural Constructions of the Family

Family Interventions

Working with Families

Spotlight on Theories: Natural Systems Theory (Bowen Theory)

Chapter 5: Explaining Dynamics with Theories
Theories: Seeking Connection and Meaning

Birth of the Family Therapy Movement

Major Theoretical Paradigm Shifts

The Context of Systemic Thinking

Spotlight on Theories: The Evolutionary Path of Major Theoretical Approaches

Part II: The Dynamic Language of the Family
Chapter 6: Communication and Family Relationship
Reaching Out and Connecting

Emotional Interactions

Power and Patterns of Decision Making

Communication in Multicultural Contexts

Cultural Echoes: Nuances in Communication

Spotlight on Theories: Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT)

Chapter 7: Communication and Control
Family Scripts

The Power of Disinformation

Family Secrets

Secrets: Shame and Pain

Professional and Work Related Communication

Spotlight on Theories: Communication Privacy Management (CPM) Theory

Chapter 8: Changing Communication Patterns
Families in a Digital World

Dynamics of a Digital World

Family Rituals in a Digital World

Family Communication Networks

Spotlight on Theories: Family Communication Patterns Theory

Chapter 9: Communication and Resilience
The Pillars of Resilience

Resilience and Self-Regulation

Resilience on Various Systemic Levels

Spotlight on Theories: Theory of Resilience and Relational Load (TRRL)

Theoretical Approach

Evaluation of this Theory

Chapter 10: Communication and Life's Journey
Families: Constant Yet Ever Changing

Dynamics of Partner Selection

Transitions and Turning Points

Lifespan Related Theories

Spotlight on Theories: Relational Dialectics Theory

Part III: Dynamics in Diverse Contexts
Chapter 11: Dynamics of Loss
Grief and Mourning

Spotlight on Interventions

Loss in Limbo: Ambiguous Loss

Narrative Therapy

Grief Support

Spotlight on Theories: Stage, Task, and Process Based Models

Chapter 12: Dynamics of Power and Excess
The Dynamics of Power

The Dynamics of Excess

Dynamics of Collecting

From Collecting to Hoarding

The Addicted System

Spotlight on Theories: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Chapter 13: Dynamics of Family Structure and Transitions
Individual Families

Intergenerational Relationships

The Single-Child Family System

Variations in Family Structure

Blended Families

Family Transitions

Healthy Families

Spotlight on Theories: Approaches Addressing Transitions

Chapter 14: Dynamics of Culture and Change
Culture and Change

Dynamics of International Families

Dynamics of Assimilation

Culture and Communication

Enculturation and Acculturation

Spotlight on Theories: Anxiety-Uncertainty Management Theory

Chapter 15: Dynamics of Happiness
The Intentionality of Happiness

Dynamics of Spiritual Development

Education and Public Policy

Family Connections and Ritual

Spotlight on Theories: Positive Psychology



Instructor Resource Site

Password-protected Instructor Resources include the following:


  • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility in creating a multimedia presentation.
  • Test banks provide a range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit and/or insert personalized questions to assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Carefully selected chapter-by-chapter video links and multimedia content enhance classroom-based explorations of key topics.

Families in Motion is a critical exploration of family issues and dynamics. It goes beyond definitions and stats and offers a more nuanced understanding of what's going on in families.”

Rhonda Buckley
Texas Woman's University
Key features

Key Features

  • This text is aligned with the requirements of the Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) set of standards.
  • A focus on family dynamics ensures students are learning the required material in the recommended areas of expertise suggested by the National Council of Family Relations (NCFR) to meet criteria for coursework toward application for the CFLE (Certified Family Life Educator) designation.
  • A Global Glimpses feature is threaded throughout the book, providing diverse examples and helping students connect the material to families and situations in other cultural contexts.
  • Authentic Insights sections offer reflections by real people who have experienced some of the discussed topics firsthand, allowing readers to hear and understand their points of view.
  • Chapter outcomes are referenced as student-friendly Focus Points throughout each chapter and reappear integrated into the chapter summaries, providing a logical thread that connects the most meaningful material throughout each section.

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ISBN: 9781544329208