Linear and Circular Ways of Dealing With Problems
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Linear and Circular Ways of Dealing With Problems

There are two ways of looking at how emotional problems come about. The linear way of thinking places the problems in a straight line with its origin somewhere in the past. These problems continue to present day. The circular way of thinking purports that emotional problems occur because of interpersonal and environmental influences. Each person acts and reacts to a given situation and some of these reactions are not healthy.

There are two ways to understand where our mental concerns come from.  The first is called linear thinking.  This means that our problems began and continued in a line.  This is the model used by the first therapists who determined that everything was about the individual client seeking help.  Their problems were internal and these problems coping in life had a beginning; that beginning was rooted somewhere in the past.  The problems continued and the line grew right up into the present.

The medical model put symptoms into clusters hoping to help solve mental health issues that way. On the other hand, family therapists use the second way of thinking which is called circular thinking.  This means of course that events, emotions, thought patterns, and behavior goes round and round in a circle.  It also takes into account external forces such as family and peers to enter into the diagnosis, treatment, and cure.

We can clearly see this happening when a child is sexually abused.  We don’t say the child is the reason for the abuse, it is external; it is definitely someone else who is causing such pain on this child.  It is less clear when there is no obvious source to blame. For example, a parent might complain that her child is totally out of control.  The therapist might ask her, what do you think influenced or led this child to become this way?  The focus for a second is taking away from the child to determine the outside forces that may have triggered this behavior. This approach will look at all the factors that may have led to this child’s behavior and then treat the child and the family accordingly.

This therapeutic model takes away the blame upon one person and fosters shared responsibility.  Parents learn that they have somehow fostered the environment where the child became out of control. They will also learn that outside factors may have influenced their child’s behaviour as well.  This model does not blame the parents, but helps teach them skills to improve the behavior of the child.  It also helps the child to improve his or her behavior as well.  The child and or parents and siblings learn anger management skills and other skills like effective listening, good discipline strategies and so on. 

Exploring our interactions with others helps us to understand the way we are feeling and why.  Though there are situations where it was no fault of our own such as sexual abuse, learning that we have something to do with the presenting problem is a great way to help us deal better with anyone inside the family and out of it.

Source:

http://www.anzjft.com/pages/articles/940.pdf

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Comments (14)

Very good. I learned this in Psychology in nursing school.

Accountability is key.

Ranked #2 in Psychology

yes Charlene I am actually creating a course here on family therapy, abnormal psychology and I may do one on group dynamics as well.

Ranked #2 in Psychology

Yes Sandy it sure is

Ranked #17 in Psychology

Prolific article Carol, including the others as always. Consider me as your student on these courses on family therapy and psycology as well, thank you very much Carol for your most valuable shares.

Ranked #2 in Psychology

thank you Ron I am honoured that you would be my student

It's always nice to have more information about how human interaction and problem solving works. Thanks for your insight into psychology, as always!
Ranked #2 in Psychology

You are welcome Bethany

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