Systems Theory Concepts in Healthcare

Subject: Healthcare Research
Pages: 3
Words: 867
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: School

Family therapists operate from a systemic viewpoint, whether they observe one individual, a couple, or a family as a whole. It is critical to conceptualize problems within the context of the customer and acknowledge that the entire system contributes to problems through creation, maintenance, or resolution. The investigation of complex matters such as mental functioning and health necessitates a multilayer approach. Tramonti et al. (2019) state that the general system theory developed by Ludwig von Bertalanffy in the first part of the twentieth century is still regarded as a fundamental contribution. The study of complex phenomena in fields including physics, biology, psychology, and social sciences in von Bertalanffy’s perspective should be handled from a systemic viewpoint to account for their multi-level relationships (Tramonti et al., 2019). Essentially, a system is a broad category of entities whose constituent pieces are interrelated in such a way that they are finally arranged in processes of actions or relationships.

The intricacy of a system cannot be reduced to the cumulative qualities of its constituent pieces. Tramonti et al. (2019) emphasize that many of the system’s constituent parts will ultimately connect to generate emergent features. Suppose psychological well-being is thought to be just the outcome of computational processing. In that case, many of the elements that determine mental processes and their interactions with the environment will be ignored (Tramonti et al., 2019). For instance, psychotherapy that relies solely on rigidly manualized research designs focused on behavior modification would eventually obstruct a better knowledge of the patient’s characteristics and find therapeutic interventions ineffective.

Homeostasis, open versus closed systems, context, morphogenesis, and morpho-stasis are all concepts in systems theory. Billman (2020) acknowledges that homeostasis is a self-regulating mechanism that allows biological systems to retain equilibrium while adapting to changing external situations. This concept describes how an organism may keep internal circumstances that are more or less constant, allowing it to adjust and thrive in the face of a changing and frequently dangerous surrounding environment. Homeostasis is formed from the dynamic interaction and competition of various negative and positive feedback systems and serves as the foundation for physiological management (Billman, 2020). Hence, the disease is caused by the disturbance of homeostatic systems, and successful therapy should focus on restoring these homeostatic circumstances.

Closed versus open systems are vital systems theory concepts that were identified within the resources. Vanderstraeten (2019) claims that closed systems are self-satisfied systems that do not communicate with their surroundings or come into contact with components that are not part of the system. On the opposite, open systems rely on constant interactions between themselves and their respective domains. The definition of society is based on the concept of an open system that must deal with environmental circumstances and employ environmentally accessible resources for the system to operate (Vanderstraeten, 2019). Therefore, engagement with the environment is required for open system operation because survival requires adaptation, and adaptation demands change.

Morphogenesis relates to change, whereas morpho-stasis refers to the absence of change. Having additional context knowledge allows us to interact with the family system and produce morphogenesis. Becerra (2017) suggests that morphogenesis is a concept from systems theory that discusses structural change inside a family system. Morphogenesis, which means formation or commencement of shape, defines the process through which an organism develops its form. It represents a family’s ability to embrace change while preserving structural stability and balance in the family system (Becerra, 2017). Morphogenesis and morpho-stasis are both processes by which families attempt to achieve balance in response to internal or external forces (Becerra, 2017). Nonetheless, the difference between the two is that morpho-stasis occurs when a system attempts to maintain its form in a dynamic environment, whereas morphogenesis entails structural change.

Morphogenesis happens when the rules, responsibilities, and values of a family system evolve through time to accommodate new knowledge or requirements. Smith and Karam (2018) state that couple and family therapists are exceptionally knowledgeable about the principles, responsibilities, and conventions that regulate family systems; they will observe development in one of two settings. Firstly, a couple or family therapist may seek treatment as a result of a morphogenetic alteration that causes discomfort or unfamiliarity in one or more members. Because morphogenesis is defined as a divergence from the system’s standards of conduct, it is easy to understand how the unfamiliar nature of the phenomena prompts a family to seek help from a couple and family therapist (Smith & Karam, 2018). Secondly, a relationship and family therapist can induce morphogenesis through the interventions they recommend. Suppose a couple or family comes to therapy because of an already established practice’s unpleasant or ineffectual impact. In that case, the therapist will almost certainly work with the system to perform morphogenesis toward a more effective interactional form.

There is a continual dynamic conflict in all families between attempting to maintain stability and bringing change. Smith and Karam (2018) claim that peace assists family members in understanding their duties and ensures continuity across time. Simultaneously, the system should be able to respond to changes in and between family members. Therefore, the family system breaks down when there is too much change; when there is too much stability, the same system ceases to function and becomes stagnant.


Becerra, S. (2017). Morphogenesis. In J. Carlson & S. Dermer (Eds.), The sage encyclopedia of Marriage, family, and couples counseling (pp. 1099-1101). SAGE Publications, Inc.

Billman, G. E. (2020). Homeostasis: The underappreciated and far too often ignored the central organizing principle of physiology. Frontiers in Physiology, 11.

Smith, M., & Karam, E. (2018). Morphogenesis in family systems theory. In J. Lebow, A. Chambers, & D. Breunlin (Eds.), Encyclopedia of couple and family therapy (pp. 29-49). Springer, Cham.

Tramonti, F., Giorgi, F., & Fanali, A. (2019). General system theory as a framework for biopsychosocial research and practice in mental health. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 36(3), 332-341.

Vanderstraeten, R. (2019). Systems everywhere? Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 36(3), 255-262.