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Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631170488.1995.x


The determination of the ‘locus’ in the family ecosystem is, together with the identification of the problem, one of the stages in the assessment phase in the structural model . The locus may be defined as the set of the structures of the system connected to the problem. Structural family therapists speak of a primary locus, a secondary locus, a secondary locus and a tertiary locus. The primary locus brings together the members of the sub-systems or systems whose interrelations give rise to the problem. Aponte and van Deusen (1981) distinguish between the ‘bearers of the problem’ who, being unable to fulfil certain functions, are frustrated in their aims, and the ‘constitutive participants’ whose relations with the ‘problem bearer’ are disturbed. The secondary locus covers the active environment of the problem which sustains the appearance of the difficulties and perpetuates them. It plays a role in reinforcing the problem. The tertiary locus is the passive environment, the crucible in which the problem takes shape, but it has no impact upon its development. In a play, the actors would be the primary locus, the stage-hands the secondary locus and the audience the tertiary locus. It must be noted that the notion of locus refers to the totality of elements of the family or ecosystem affected by the problem in the present and contributing to its continuance. It does not relate ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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