All families go through a variety of circumstances. Recently, second year MPS Art Therapy students discussed and created visual representations of The Family Life Cycle Theory. This theory outlines the stages of development that a family may be going through. The stages are defined in the following manner:
–Beginning couple: Navigating relationship and family development,
career and financial status/goals, cultural expectations
–Family with an infant: Role of parents, parental relationship shifts,
parenting styles, and involvement of extended family and strangers
(e.g. babysitters) in a child’s life.
–Family with school-aged children: Social integration of children and
parents with other social circles, children becoming more autonomous,
and cultural expectations
–Family with teenagers : Shift in limits and boundaries,
independence/separation from the family unit, responsibility shifts
–Launching children from home: Shift of identity, loss
–Post Parental – Becoming grandparents, relationship shifts between
parents and children, potentially shift of caring for aging parents
Each of these stages consists of a variety of tasks that the family faces, with just some of the many listed above. Using this theory to try to frame a family’s development can be helpful in approaching therapy with the family. While each family has different components and does not necessarily go through these stages in this order, it is a framework that can act as a starting point in thinking about the family’s treatment.