Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Boundaries in Structural Family Therapy

  • Richard HolmEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_246


“Boundary Definition” according to Davidson (1983) was one of the most important concepts of General Systems Theory. It provided an inclusive contextual view that was expansive enough to include the significant factors relevant for understanding a particular organism or entity (p. 33). Minuchin (1974) viewed the family and its subsystems as circumscribed by boundaries.

Theoretical Context for Concept

Boundaries are the “rules defining who participates and how.” (Ibid., p. 53). Their function is “to protect the differentiation of the system. Every family subsystem has specific functions and makes specific demands on its members, and the development of interpersonal skills achieved in these subsystems is predicated on the subsystems freedom from interferences by other subsystems” (Ibid., pp. 53–54). Boundary permeability will therefore affect family functioning.


First described boundaries in the family as enmeshed or disengaged. Later (1974) he applied these...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Minuchin Center for the FamilyWoodburyUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • David Kearns
    • 1
  • Bahareh Sahebi
    • 2
  1. 1.Iowa CityUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA