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Developmental Psychopathology from Family Systems and Family Risk Factors Perspectives: Implications for Family Research, Practice, and Policy


This chapter reviews family systems and developmental psychopathology, noting some aspects of the political /policy/practice context about the role of families in the development of psychopathology. To provide a focused account of family systems theory, it illustrates examples drawn primarily from the United States. After a brief historical look at how these theories have changed over time, the chapter illustrates how family systems and family risk factors approaches can be applied to the understanding of developmental psychopathology. It examines how family processes are implicated in explaining what happens when nonclinical families go through major life transitions, both expected and unexpected. The chapter then shows how formulations from a family systems or family risk factor perspective can provide value-added information, both in predicting the trajectories people follow in their journeys toward or away from diagnosed disorders, and in planning interventions for those at risk or distressed.

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