[Mapping of Rules, An Online Family-Assessment Instrument]

The Mapping of Rules (MOR) assessment was designed as a way to assess present family function and its change over time. Designed as a family checkup, the MOR performs that function very well. It is equally useful with individuals, couples and families, and with other social organizations, such as the work place.

Further the MOR is very versatile. We have employed it in a variety of situations, including: as a baseline for beginning individual, couple or family therapy, for appraising progress in therapy and as a psychometric tool with patients in psychotherapy. It has been utilized as a research tool and as a vehicle for teaching family therapy. Colleagues in general medicine have reported its usefulness in screening new patients. We look forward to a time when the MOR will be used outside the professional arena as a self assessment instrument.

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Frederick R. Ford, M.D., graduated from medical school at the University of Oklahoma. Subsequently, he pursued obstetrics and gynecology and then spent some time in the armed forces. From there he started and finished training in psychiatry and eventually found his way to the Mental Research Institute (MRI) in Palo Alto, California. This was at the time of Virginia Satir, Don Jackson, Jules Riskin, Jay Haley, Paul Watzlawick, and John Weakland. Trained by Satir in family therapy, he went on to run her program and teach her courses when she left the MRI.

On leaving the Mental Research Institute in 1969, Ford and Joan Herrick, MSSW, continued working with thoughts generated there. In the process they developed a family assessment instrument using videotape that is the forerunner of the Mapping of Rules (MOR). Later, and after Herrick had withdrawn, Marie Doyle, Ph.D., and Ford joined forces to put the Mapping of Rules into its first operational form.

Ford is a life fellow of both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Orthopsychiatric Association. He is one of the 14 Incorporating Members of the American Family Therapy Academy (nee Association). In the latter organization, he has co-chaired the (family) Typology Interest and Study Groups for many years.


The following is an excerpt from:

Mapping of Rules (MOR)
A Paper-and-Pencil Family Assessment Instrument
by Frederick R. Ford, M.D.

INTRODUCTION

In 1969 Ford and Herrick (1974, 1982) began a project to design an instrument for the purpose of giving families feedback about their organization and function. The idea was similar to that for the well baby clinic: as a way to assess present function and change over time. There were many outcomes of this work; one of these was the discovery of some common patterns of interaction and behavior. As more was observed and known about family interaction it became apparent that certain families clustered together and had, at least grossly, similar structures. In order to communicate this information between ourselves and to others we separated and named five resonant groups. When these groups were named they became a typology of families.

The resonant groups were essentially divided along the lines of the rules that governed their capabilities and function. Thus our five clusters appeared to be governed by five distinct sets of rules. And, although it wasn't known at the time, the names given to each of the groupings were themselves larger family rules. (1974, p. 62.) A short hop from there, over a long period of time, led to the design of a paper and pencil family assessment instrument based on the recognition of the rules governing each system as viewed by individual family members.

The five family systems identified and named for their larger governing rules are:

Two Against the World.
Children Come First.
Share and Share Alike.
Every Man for Himself.
Until Death Do Us Part.

Using these five rules/names for the defined systems as well as the subsumed smaller rules became the basis of the family assessment instrument called the Mapping of Rules or MOR (Ford, Doyle, Skelton, 1994).

Designed as a family checkup, the MOR performs that function very well. It is equally useful with individuals, couples and families, and with other social organizations, such as the work place. Further the MOR is very versatile. We have employed it in a variety of situations, including: as a baseline for beginning individual, couple or family therapy, for appraising progress in therapy and as a psychometric tool with patients in psychotherapy. It has been utilized as a research tool and as a vehicle for teaching family therapy. Colleagues in general medicine have reported its usefulness in screening new patients. We look forward to a time when the MOR will be used outside the professional arena as a self assessment instrument.

REFERENCES

Ford, F. R., & Herrick, J. (1974). Family rules: Family life styles. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 44, 61-69.

Ford, F. R., & Herrick, J. (1984). A typology of families: Five family systems. Australian Journal of Family Therapy, 3, 71-81.

Ford, F. R., Doyle, M., & Skelton, J. (1994). MORSENSE, Theory and Interpretation of Mapping of Rules (MOR). Unpublished manuscript.

© 1997 Frederick R. Ford