These theories hold that the identified client's problem(s) function to protect or serve to provide some other useful homeostatic purpose for the family unit. Altering the problematic behavior or pattern of behavior may be threatening to the system, so techniques serve to overcome resistance and address the systemic issues.


1. Invariant prescription - this is an unchanging prescription given to all families that have symptomatic children, asking that parents spend time with each other, not with the children. The purpose is to create clearer generational boundaries and to break the pattern of destructive games.

2. Circular questioning - this is a technique for interviewing and hypothesis validation in which each family member comments on the behavior and interactions of other family members.

3. Odd/even day ritual - this encourages irreverence or a more flexible view of the family as the family is given a directive that on odd days one set of rules or rituals holds true, and on even days another. For example, on odd days, the family is to act as if they need treatment, on even days as if they do not, or on odd days Mom does the parenting and on even days Dad does the parenting.

4. Rituals - this technique involves a series of actions involving the entire family in a sequence of steps, forming a play that is to be enacted under specific circumstances. An example of a ritual is a family sitting together daily, each getting equal time to speak well of the family, with no negative opinions allowed.