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Family Stress Management

Family Stress Management
A Contextual Approach

Third Edition

August 2016 | 224 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Why do some families survive stressful situations while others fall apart? Can a family’s beliefs and values be used as a predictor of vulnerability to stress? And most importantly, can family stress be prevented?

The Third Edition of Family Stress Management continues its original commitment to recognize both the external and internal contexts in which distressed families find themselves. With its hallmark Contextual Model of Family Stress (CMFS), the Third Edition provides practitioners and researchers with a useful framework to understand and help distressed individuals, couples, and families. The example of a universal stressor—a death in the family—highlights cultural differences in ways of coping. Throughout, there is new emphasis on diversity and the nuances of family stress management—such as ambiguous loss—plus new discussions on family resilience and community as resources for support.

About the Authors
Chapter 1- Family Stress: An Overview
Defining Family Stress  
Defining Family  
An Example of Diversity in Family Structure: Grandparents Parenting Grandchildren  
What Were Our Own Families Like?  
General Systems Theory: The Family as System  
Symbolic Interaction as a Basis for Studying Perceptions and Meanings  
Is There a Family Perception?  
Problematic Perceptions  
Diversity and Multiculturalism in Family Stress Management  
Minority Stress  
Acculturative and Bicultural Stress  
The Stress of Discrimination and Racism  
Gender and Family Stress  
Trends in the 1970s  
Trends in the 1980s  
Trends in the 1990s  
Current Trends  
Points to Remember  
Discussion Questions  
Additional Readings  
Chapter 2- The Contextual Model of Family Stress
Why a Contextual Model?  
The Family’s External Context  
Cultural Context  
Historical Context  
Economic Context  
Developmental Context  
Hereditary Context  
The Family’s Internal Context (Structural, Psychological, and Philosophical)  
The ABC-X of Family Stress: A Frame for Definitions  
The A Factor: Stressor Event (Stressful Event)  
The Danger of Circular Reasoning  
Classification of Family Stressor Events  
Cautions About Defining a Stressor Event  
The B Factor: Resources (Individual, Family, and Community)  
The C Factor: Perception  
The Primacy of Perceptions  
Collective Versus Individual Perceptions  
The X Factor: Family Crisis  
The Roller Coaster Model of Family Crisis  
Linking the ABC-X Model to the Roller Coaster Model of Family Crisis  
The Turning Point: Family Recovery After Crisis  
Family Strain  
Points to Remember  
Discussion Questions  
Additional Readings  
Chapter 3- Multicultural Perspectives of a Universal Stressor
The Stress of Grief and Loss from Death  
Cultural Perceptions of Death and Loss  
Definitions of Death  
Resolving Loss  
Same Religion, Different Culture  
African American  
Identity and Status in One’s Family After a Death  
Applying the Contextual Model of Family Stress to This Universal Stressor  
Where Is the Field Now?  
Points to Remember  
Discussion Questions  
Additional Readings  
Chapter 4- Ambiguous Loss: A Major Stressor
Ambiguous Loss Theory  
Types of Ambiguous Loss  
Effects of Ambiguous Loss  
Individual Level  
Family Level  
Community Level  
Core Assumptions for Working With Ambiguous Loss  
Interventions: What Helps With Ambiguous Loss?  
What Ambiguous Loss Is Not  
Ambiguity Is Not Ambivalence  
Ambiguity Is Not Uncertainty  
Ambiguous Loss and Spirituality  
Ambiguous Gain Versus Ambiguous Loss  
Points to Remember  
Discussion Questions  
Additional Readings  
Chapter 5- Boundary Ambiguity: A Perceptual Risk Factor in Family Stress Management
Measurement of Boundary Ambiguity  
History of Boundary Ambiguity  
Sociological and Psychological Roots  
Family Therapy Roots  
Entries and Exits; Gains and Losses  
Normative Developmental Boundary Ambiguity Across the Family Life Cycle  
Exceptions and Nuances  
Effects of Boundary Ambiguity  
Assumptions About Boundary Ambiguity  
What Boundary Ambiguity Is Not  
Boundary Ambiguity Is Not Boundary Maintenance  
Boundary Ambiguity Is Not Boundary Permeability  
Intervention for Boundary Ambiguity  
New Studies and Future Directions  
Points to Remember  
Discussion Questions  
Additional Readings  
Chapter 6- Family Coping, Adapting, and Managing
Defining Individual and Family Coping  
Individual Coping  
Family Coping  
Current Trends in Coping Research  
Denial Coping  
Approach/Avoidance Coping  
Forbearance Coping  
Preparedness Coping  
Humor Coping  
Religious Coping  
Repressive Coping  
Coping Ugly  
Coping and the Contextual Model of Family Stress  
Family Coping Resources  
Individual Coping Resources  
Community Resources for Family Coping  
Intervention and Prevention  
Psychoeducation as Effective Family Stress Intervention  
How Did This Simple but Revolutionary Idea in Mental Health Treatment Come About?  
The First Step: Where to Begin?  
Complexities of the Coping Process  
The Paradox of Individual Versus Family Coping  
The Paradox of Functional Versus Dysfunctional Coping  
Dialectical Thinking: Definition and Early Roots  
The Chain Reaction of Coping or the Codetermination of Events  
Cautions About Coping  
Concluding Thoughts for Future Work  
Points to Remember  
Discussion Questions  
Additional Readings  
Chapter 7- Resilience for Managing Stress
The Difference Between Coping and Resilience  
Defining Resilience  
Resilience and Family Stress  
Individual, Family, and Community Resilience  
Ordinary Magic  
Resilience and the Contextual Model of Family Stress  
The Family’s External Context  
The Family’s Internal Context  
Revisiting the ABC-X Approach  
Adversity and Resilience  
Positive, Tolerable, and Toxic Stress  
Intensity of Adversity  
The Era of Resilience  
Resilience Theorizing and Research Over the Years  
Individual Resilience  
Family Resilience  
Family Science Conceptual Frameworks Focused on Resilience  
Life Course Theory  
Symbolic Interaction Theory  
Family Stress Theory  
An Example: Application to Military Families  
A Third-Wave Family Resilience Framework  
Resilience Frameworks Focused on Particular Situations  
Resilience-Informed Professional Practice  
Prevention and Resilience  
Use of Family Resilience Frameworks  
Cautions About Resilience  
Troublesome Theorizing  
The Cost of Resilience  
Rebellion and Opposing the Status Quo  
Points to Remember  
Discussion Questions  
Additional Readings  
Chapter 8- Families, Communities, and Neighborhoods
Defining Community and Neighborhood  
Sense of Community  
Virtual Sense of Community  
Community and Neighborhood  
Communities and the Contextual Model of Family Stress  
Research Findings on Families and Communities  
Informal Connections and Relationships  
Formal System Programs for Families  
Neighborhood Risk  
Exposure to Violence  
Other Dimensions of Communities  
The Social Organization Framework  
Informal Networks  
The Physical Environment  
Community Capacity  
Results for Families  
The Value of Social Connections for Families  
Resilient Communities  
Four Types of Communities  
Fluid and Dynamic Communities  
Social Cohesion  
Communities as Place and Force for Prevention and Intervention With Distressed Families  
Communities as Place  
Communities as Force  
Community Family Therapy  
Points to Remember  
Discussion Questions  
Additional Readings  
Chapter 9- Future Challenges to Family Stress Management
Health Disparities  
Climate Change  
Widening Economic Gulf Between Low and High Income Families  
Increasing Work Pressures and Economic Conditions  
Conflict Driven by Religious Differences  
Family Caregiving Challenges and Dilemmas  
Transgender Trends and Challenges  
Increasing Focus on Community  
Violence in Communities  
Families on New Shores  
Additional Factors to Consider About the Study of Family Stress  
Points to Remember  
Discussion Questions  
Additional Readings  

“I am excited to introduce my graduate social work students to this significantly revised third edition of Family Stress Management. Grounded in the latest research literature and clearly written, this book offers its readers an integrative framework, the Contextual Model of Family Stress, that advances understanding of and practice with families facing adversity and positive challenges. Particularly noteworthy are the expanded discussions of multiculturalism, diversity, resilience, and community. Bravo and many thanks to Pauline Boss, Chalandra Bryant, and Jay Mancini for this third edition!”

Gary L. Bowen
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“The topic of stress and coping could not be more relevant and critical to families today, and this text is an informative guide that reviews how family stress theory has evolved, has been studied in the literature, and can be used to help all families face a variety of current stressor events.”

Angie Giordano
California State University, Northridge

“Boss et al. are reflective, thorough, and human in their presentation of family stress management. This is an excellent text for undergraduate family stress courses seeking to introduce students to the expansive, and at times daunting, literature on family crisis.”

Lynette Nickleberry
SUNY Empire State College
Key features
  • This book provides an inclusive framework, the Contextual Model of Family Stress (CMFS), for family stress intervention and prevention with new emphasis on resilience, community, and diversity.
  • Multicultural differences in meaning and coping are illustrated with new information about a universal stressor—a death in the family.
  • Discussion questions have been added to the end of each chapter.
  • New readings have been added throughout.
  • Stories included in every chapter illustrate concepts.
  • The book has been reorganized to be more streamlined for easier reading and teaching.
  • Four new chapters have been added and all existing chapters are completely updated.
  • Concepts have been clarified, such as ambiguous loss versus boundary ambiguity and coping versus resilience.
  • New information about resilience and community as support for distressed families has been added.
  • This jargon-free and accessible text can be used by multiple disciplines, including family science, family therapy, social work, nursing, psychology, and sociology.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 4

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