Though made up of individuals, families function as a system that has its own patterns and rules. Each individual plays a role, within the system, and every member will go to great lengths to maintain the balance. The familiarity with routines and patterns gives the members a sense of identity and safety, even when there is dysfunction. For this reason, there is often resistance to change. In family therapy, the goal is to create conditions in which the family is able to shift, allowing for the change to occur. Because dynamics between members are different, family therapy activities often involve meeting with members individually or indifferent configurations that make up the various subsystems of the family. It may be helpful to spend periods of time understanding the relationship between one individual and their parents, or examining the ways in which siblings communicate with one another. In fact, it may be the case that meeting with the parents, alone, is helpful in understanding the family. Because these different configurations resemble other modalities, it is important to draw a distinction between family therapy and individual therapy, or couples counseling. One of the values of family therapy is to hear each member’s perspective and ideas. Through this type of session work, families can improve boundaries and communication, help members feel better understood, and become better connected.
Family therapy is a type of psychological counseling (psychotherapy) that can help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts. It’s usually provided by a psychologist, clinical social worker or licensed therapist.
Family therapy is best for families who are experiencing a problem that affects one or more family members, such as mental health conditions (like depression, substance abuse, or eating disorders), significant stress or conflict among family members, or changes in the family structure (like divorce or blended families).
The goals of family therapy can vary based on the specific family andtheir needs, but generally they may include improving communication among family members, resolving conflicts, and improving the functioning of the family unit.
Four advantages of family therapy might be: 1) It can help improve communication among family members, 2) It can provide support and understanding during a difficult family situation, 3) It can help family members understand and cope with a loved one’s mental health condition, and 4) It can help improve the overall functioning and happiness of the family.