Family therapy is a type of psychotherapy that can help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts.
Family therapy is often short term. It may include all family members or just those able or willing to participate. Your specific treatment plan will depend on your family’s situation. Family therapy sessions can teach clients and family members skills to deepen family connections and get through stressful times, even after you’re done going to therapy sessions. It emphasizes family relationships as an important factor in psychological health. Family therapy focuses on family problems, which are seen in relation to family interactions, instead of based only on individual members of a unit.
Family therapy can be useful when you encounter the following issues:
- Family relationships and changes in family life
- Adult mental health
- Parenting issues
- Couple relationships
- Work stress
- Parenting skills
- Chronic health problems, such as asthma or cancer
- Supporting family members through separation, mediation and divorce
- Child and adolescent behavior
- Emotional disorders including anxiety, depression, loss and grief
- Anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders
- Supporting family members in step-family life
- Emotional abuse or violence
- Financial problems
- Drug, alcohol, and other substance misuse.
What Are Types of Family Therapy?
There are four types of family therapists most often utilized: supportive family therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic ideas and systemic family therapy.
Supportive Family Therapy is often used to help family members expression their feelings regarding a problem that is affecting the entire family. This type of family therapy provides a safe and open environment in which everyone can express who they feel. This is an opportunity for families to get together, and openly talk about the issues plaguing them, as well as an opportunity for the therapist to offer practical advice.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques attempt to change the ways people think or behave in order to reduce or get rid of the problem. The therapist may assign each individual family member with homework tasks to complete or specific behavioral programs might be drawn up.
Psychodynamic ideas used in family therapy tends to look more into the individual’s own unconscious (sometimes called subconscious) minds. This type of therapy attempts to reduce problem(s) by uncovering the underlying problems. It is the hope of many therapists who use this method that, by providing the individuals with the real reasons for strife, family members will be able to deal with—and work through—their difficulties more successfully.
Systemic Family Therapy puts emphasis on the entire family’s feelings. It attempts to identify the problems within a family dynamic, as well as the ideas and attitudes of the entire family to uncover what may be going on with the family as whole. Once the therapist has a full understanding of these areas, he or she may attempt to shift the problem(s), attitudes, relationships, to a position that is more beneficial, less damaging, or simply more realistic.