Exploring Different Types of Boundaries in Family Relationships

 Structural therapists identify three basic types of boundaries:

Clear Boundaries:

 Clear boundaries are “normal” boundaries that allow for close emotional

Contact with others while simultaneously allowing each person to maintain a sense of

Identity and differentiation. The families can be supportive, look out for each other’s wellbeing, and promote peaceful activities.

Enmeshment and Diffuse Boundaries:

Diffuse or weak boundaries lead to relational Enmeshment. Families with overly diffuse boundaries do not make a clear distinction between members, creating a strong sense of mutuality and connection at the expense of individual autonomy.

Common Characteristics noticeable in the families include; interrupting one another or speaking for one another, Mind reading and making assumptions, insisting on high levels of protectiveness and over concern, Demanding loyalty at the expense of individual needs, Feeling threatened when there is disagreement or difference.

Disengagement and Rigid Boundaries:

Rigid boundaries lead to relational disengagement. Autonomy and independence are emphasized at the expense of emotional connection, creating isolation that may be more emotional than physical.  These families have excessive tolerance for deviation, often failing to mobilize support and protection for one another. Characteristics of the family include; Lack of reaction and few repercussions, even to problems, Significant freedom for most members to do as they please, Few demands for or expressions of loyalty and commitment, Consistently using parallel interactions (e.g., doing different activities in the same room) as substitutes for reciprocal interactions and engagement.

520 thoughts on “Exploring Different Types of Boundaries in Family Relationships