Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Family of Origin

  • Anne K. DeCoreEmail author
  • Karen Focht
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_349

Name of Concept

Family of Origin


The term “Family of Origin” describes the family in which a person was raised. An individual’s family of origin is composed of the members, consanguine or not, who played a significant role in the early development (infancy and childhood) of the individual.

Theoretical Context for Concept

The idea of the family of origin is an ever-present concept in the clinical work of marriage and family therapists because the field rests upon a family systems perspective. A seminal idea of systems theory is that every individual is embedded in a multi-level system: The biological processes within the individual are nested within the nuclear family and extended family structures, which are, in turn, nested within a community and social context (Breunlin et al. 2001). Aristotle’s maxim that “the whole is larger than the sum of its parts” is often borrowed to explain the approach marriage and family therapists take to assess individual problems. “Where...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Molly F. Gasbarrini
    • 1
  1. 1.Alliant International UniversityLos AngelesUSA