Implicit family process rules refer to unspoken rules about family beliefs and expectations about communication, closeness, and organization and are an important dimension of family functioning that may have a powerful influence over adolescent psychological well being. This study focused on the relationship between implicit family process rules and adolescent psychological symptoms such as: Hostility, interpersonal sensitivity, depression, anxiety, and somatization. It was hypothesized that more facilitative implicit family process rules would be related to fewer adolescent psychological symptoms. In addition, a model was created that included theexogenousindependent variables of family status, (defined as intact-marriage or non-intact), treatment status (whether the adolescent was currently in a psychological treatment program or not), and gender to test their relationships to implicit family process rules and adolescent psychological symptoms. A non-treatment sample (N=99) was recruited in Utah County, Utah, using a sample of convenience. The treatment sample (N=144) was recruited from an adolescent residential wilderness therapy program located in Duchesne County, Utah. The Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) and the Family Implicit Rules Profile (FIRP) were administered to each participant along with a questionnaire requesting demographic information. Structural equation modeling was used to explore the relationships between the exogenous variables, facilitative implicit family process rules, and adolescent psychological symptoms. The model was tested using AMOS statistical software. Results showed that implicit family process rules were significantly related to adolescent psychological symptoms such that facilitative rules were related to fewer psychological symptoms. Males reported more constraining rules on the Expressiveness subscale of the FIRP while females reported more symptomology on the Interpersonal Sensitivity subscale of the BSI. These findings support previous research on family dynamics and psychological functioning and support the hypothesis that perceived implicit family process rules are important to study in adolescents. This research is a step toward a more epistemological approach to family therapy with adolescents as well as a step toward more preventative family therapy and education by addressing family rules. Implications for family therapists and future research are discussed.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage and Family Therapy



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implicit family process rules, adolescent well being, FIRP, BSI