Miami University Family Case Study

The Project:

As you reviewed chapter 11, you were given information and research about the dynamics of family cohesion, communication, and conflict in relationships. As our chapter states so clearly, “Families are powerful environments…” Think back over your family system growing up to the present day, and how they communicated and interacted with one another. 


The purpose of the family case study is to help students become more aware of family dynamics and to better understand and appreciate the complexity of a family system, especially their own by using the Couple and Family Map provided to analyze your family of origin or the family you have created through marriage or children. The purpose of the Family Case Study is to increase awareness of family systems and the family dynamics within these systems. More importantly, this assignment is to help you understand and take a deeper evaluation of your particular family system. Thus, this project will enable you to learn more about your own family and to help you integrate and apply information from the course into your own life and familial experiences. 

It is a personal project that requires a lot of reflection but is by no means designed to make anyone feel uncomfortable disclosing information about their family. However, it is intended for all students to take a critical analysis of their family and the inner workings of their family system from their perspective. In the documents provided entitled Couple and Family Map Rating Form and scales (See Tables 1 and 2), you will be provided instructions and scales for completing the Family Case Study. The study is comprised of 2 sections. The first section will be an introduction to your family, and the second section will be describing the family system using the Couple and Family Map terms and descriptions.

PLEASE NOTE: NO FAMILY IS PERFECT–every family has a measure of dysfunction (believe me my family has their flaws)! I am NOT here to judge or critique your family; as noted above, the purpose of this project is for students to think about their families in a unique, more in-depth way and provide an opportunity to think deeper and more critically concerning the way your family system operates. It is to enhance YOUR understanding of your family and provide potentially more insight and awareness. Many students have found and shared with me how helpful this project was for them.

assignment-descriptions-red bannerSection 1: Background Information on the Family (approx. 2 pages; 5 points)

This is an introduction of your family—please feel free to include any information necessary or feel comfortable sharing that you believe is important for me to know about to fully understand your family system.

NOTE: if you have a family of your own that you have created with your partner and have children, I advise you to do your family of procreation and not family of origin.

Briefly describe the following characteristics of your current family:

1. Composition of the family: marital status, ages, children, and sibling order (including yourself)—who’s in your immediate family that you live with or are dependent upon.
2. Occupation of parents (if you still live with them) or if you are independent then your occupation, educational achievement of family members, ethnicity, religious/faith background, and family social class.
3. Description of community/neighborhood in which your family lives—what was/is your neighborhood like (i.e. friendly, disconnected, diverse, family-centered, etc.)
4. Level of interaction and connection with extended family.

Section 2: Brief Commentary and Illustrations of Challenges and Strengths of your family system (approx. 3-4 pages; 18 points)

*First, make sure you have read chapters 2 (regarding Family Systems Theory) and 11 (cohesion and communication).

Then, rate your family on the three dimensions of family cohesion, family flexibility, and family communication based on the scale and rating forms (See Tables 1 and 2 below).

Upon completion of rating your family, you will write up the results of your family assessment on the Couple and Family Map Rating Form (see Table 2 below), which will be what you address in your “case study.” This means rating your family on each of the concepts and then making a global rating (average rating) related to the three major dimensions using the rating scales provided (see rating form and scale in Tables 1 and 2 below).  

Begin, by looking over the Scales to get an understanding of what each dimension (e.g., cohesion) looks like, and then you will use that understanding to fill out the rating form. Therefore, when you fill out the Couple and Family Rating Form to get your ratings for each dimension of cohesion, flexibility, and communication, you will take your cohesion global/average rating and flexibility global/average rating to find out where your family fell on the Couple and Family Map (See Table 3). Tell me what system your family fell into based on your family’s global scores of cohesion and flexibility in addition to what you scored overall in cohesion, flexibility, and communication (e.g. “After mapping my family on the Couple and Family Map, I found that my family is Structurally Connected with a global rating of a 3 in cohesion, a 4 in flexibility, and a 3.5 in communication…”).

Once you have identified your current type of family system (e.g. structurally connected or rigidly enmeshed), you will then discuss in your case study the perceived strengths and challenges for each dimension with this type of family system based on how you rated your family—what areas did you score high versus areas you scored lower in; where does your family thrive but where can they improve. This section is designed for you to look at each dimension of the Couple and Family Map (i.e., cohesion, communication, and flexibility) and to pick at least 2 concepts under each—one strength and one challenge (for example, under cohesion: you may choose loyalty as a strength and shared activities as a challenge) and discuss it by providing examples and illustrations of what that concept looks like in your family and why you scored it the way you did.

Do NOT be general or abstract in explanations and descriptions such as: “My family is very loyal so it is a strength for us and we scored an 8 on it.” But in what ways are you loyal and how did you come to give your family such a high score? What examples can you provide to demonstrate loyalty to the family among the members? Think of it this way: after you score your family in cohesion—ask yourself, “What is a strength for us in this area, and what is a challenge/growth area or something we could work on?” You will need to explain why by choosing from the various dimensions. For example, again, you may choose “activities”  as a strength; thus you will need to explain how by illustrating and describing—“We have high cohesion due to our activities. We enjoy doing things together such as we have a game night every Tuesday and every weekend we try to get together because we enjoy being in each other’s presence and doing activities together…it is a strength for us.” In short, you are to explain through examples why you scored your family a certain number for the areas of Cohesion, Flexibility, and Communication and talk about the strengths and challenges you believe your family has in each dimension.

Concluding Reflection (2 points):

Finally, you are to include at the end of your analysis study a reflection of the process. Some examples of what you could discuss though you are NOT limited to these considerations: Were you surprised at the results? Did you find it difficult or easy to rate your family? Which dimensions did you feel were the most challenging and why? What do you think of where your family fell on the Map? After assessing your family, what would you recommend that your family could do to become a stronger and healthier system? What do you like best about your family?

Also, feel free to include any family pictures if you would like 🙂


Please look over ALL files below (some are already provided above): clearly reading through the criteria outline and reviewing the scales and forms provided as well as the templates. It is critical and expected that you follow the criteria. 

*All resources regarding scales, rating form, and map were taken from Marriages and Families: Intimacy, Diversity, and Strengths by Olson, DeFrain & Skogrand (8th edition) by McGraw Hill. 

The Couple and Family Map Important Tables & Documents (which were referred to above):

  • How to use theCouple and Family Map instructions. This document helps you understand how to assess your family using the scales and rating form.The Scales/Table 1: This document presents all 3 dimensions (cohesion, flexibility, and communication) and the continuum of descriptive categories your family can fall under. The Rating Form/Table 2:This is the document you will use to rate your family on each dimension based on your choices using the Couple and Family Map scales.
  • Here is a visual of what rating your family would look like with you filling it out:
    • Example of a rating formThe Couple and Family Map/Table 3: This is the document you will use once you have rated your family, added up your scores within each dimension, and divide that number by the total number of categories (6), and received your global rating. You will then use the global rating for cohesion and flexibility to determine your family’s system and then plot it on the map. Though you will score your family on Communication, the communication score will not be used to determine the family system when you plot it on the map.
    • PLEASE NOTE: you do not have to attach or place the map within your project; just be sure to specify which system your family fell into within your analysis. You are free to but it is not required. IF you want to provide a visual of where your family fell on the Couple and Family Map, here is a copy and paste version you may use BUT do NOT have to provide–it is optional. opy and Paste version of the map with example
  • Templates for you to look at and review to help you know what it can and should look like:Student Template with plotted map

submission_instructions banner Upload your paper as an attachment after you have met the criteria.

  • Be sure to follow the criteria outlined above and the expectations for written work.
  • See the checklist below to make sure you have met the criteria.
  • Always use proper APA citations and textbook references when needed.
  • Remember for Turnitin: No paper will be accepted that is above a 20% match in the originality report. Please check your Turnitin Report in the submission details in the assignment to make sure that what might be flagged in your report needs to be fixed.


Evaluation of Written Work

All course work will be evaluated with regard to the following: writing mechanics, grammar, originality, quality of integration of relevant literature and perspectives, clarity, organization, and development.  Papers are expected to be well written and organized, in essay format, grammatically correct, and original. The paper must be double-spaced, using Times New Roman preferably, in 12 pt. font and pages numbered. ALL written assignments should be proofread for proper grammar and spelling so that you always submit your best work. 

FCS Checklist for meeting the criteria:

  • Did I address all the components regarding Section 1 to describe my family background?
  • Did I rate my family on all scales?
  • Did I find my family’s system on the Couple and Family Map and state the type of system clearly in my paper?
  • Did I address 1 strength and 1 challenge when addressing each dimension (e.g., communication, flexibility, and cohesion) of my current family system using concepts in my descriptions and analysis of my family?
  • Did I clearly illustrate through examples 2 concepts (i.e., loyalty, roles, clarity, change) of each dimension as it relates to my family and provided ample commentary to fully describe what each chosen concept looks like in my family and how it is a strength or a challenge?
  • Did I include a reflection of the process at the end?
  • Did I follow the written expectations and formatting criteria?

I have a family of six, including my dad. He works in the court and used to be a businessman in the furniture market. My mother is a retired accountant, and there is a sister who is several years older than me. My brother-in-law is a soldier and has excellent grades. Now he organizes cadres in the company. And her elder sister and her brother-in-law gave birth to a daughter. The daughter’s name is Niuniu. She is a very cute little girl who is only 5 years old this year. Our family is very happy and happy, it can be said to be very united and friendly. The family are in China now.Is there any more information I need to provide? Tell me anytime, thank you~~~

My family, including the community where I live, is located in a very good part of the city, but it is an old house. We lived in it twelve years ago. This house is along the river, on the riverside, and you can see the grand scenery of the entire Qiantang River. The location of this community is very good. There are also many commercial centers nearby that can provide a series of leisure activities such as eating and watching movies. There are also many elementary schools and educational institutions nearby. The quality of education here is also very good, and there are also very good hospitals. , With good medical conditions, it is perfect here. Of course we have neighbors, and we care about them very well. They are as close as a family. They often come to bring some fruits and vegetables. Sometimes we will give gifts to each other during festivals. This is also one of ours. etiquette.There are also a lot of interactions in the big environment. A few days ago, my parents also visited my relatives (aunts, aunts and uncles). Our big family is also a big loving family. I am now in the United States. I miss my grandma very much, my dearest and amiable grandma, when I return to China next time, I will definitely visit her and take care of her. There is no difference between a big family and my family. They will always be in my heart.

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