What is Family Therapy?
Family therapy is a form of group coaching where family members struggling to relate with each other sit down to discuss their problems with licensed therapists and psychologically trained experts in order to improve their personal relationships and individual lives together.
Family therapy is different from individual therapy not because individual problems are ignored but because family problems are brought to the forefront, and individual issues are discussed as a part of the overall problem. This type of therapy focuses on improving communication and resolving interpersonal conflict by limiting problematic behaviors and creating positive new habits within the family unit.
Family therapy focuses on solving mental health problems and substance abuse issues which are symptoms of other underlying problems. According to the alcohol rehab guide, two thirds of domestic abuse cases included reports of the intimate partner being under the influence of alcohol when violence took place.
Family therapists can be brought in to resolve conflicts in strained relationships and improve communication to solve family issues with one or more members of the family. While treatment is based upon dealing with issues in the family unit, it can be useful to remove the discussion from the family home and into a safe environment. Sessions often take place in a therapist’s office with other mental health professionals such as licensed marriage counselors and psychologists present.
Types of Family Therapy
There are many forms of Family Therapy – using different techniques that can benefit you and your family – you should discuss these with your marriage and family therapists and mental health provider to choose the best type of therapy:
Structural therapy – This was developed by Argentinian/American mental health professional Salvador Minuchin in the 1970s. It looks at the roles of different family members and how they interact with each other in order to make structural changes that benefit the different family members individually and as a group.
Narrative family therapy – This works by changing how a family member sees their life. Counselors help family members to see their life through the eyes of a narrator writing a story and help them to make changes to their lives by changing their actions whilst looking in from an outside view.
Strategic family therapy – This works by making small changes to family members’ actions which can have a knock-on effect on the group. Strategic family therapy is more action based and is less interested in ‘why’ there are problems, but more in ‘how’ to solve them.
Communication therapy – This therapy brings people together to have a constructive dialogue about their issues with one another with a counselor facilitating the discourse to ensure appropriate modes of communication.
Relationship counseling – Marriage and family therapists work with romantic partners to deal with specific problems such as intimacy or trust which occur within the relationship.
Family Therapy Techniques
Goal Setting– Setting basic goals, for example, eating dinner together, can show clear progress and assure parties that, even when the journey isn’t complete, steps are being taken in the right direction.
Changing the Frame– Instead of looking at problems in a purely negative light basic changes in wording can turn a situation around. This in turn gives family members a different perspective on exactly what’s causing issues to give them a clearer route to be able to solve them effectively.
Setting Boundaries – Making other family members understand how their actions affect yours is a fundamental part of family therapy. Your mental health professional should help you communicate clearly and directly what is and what isn’t appropriate to other family members to change behavior patterns and change family dynamics.
Why Family Therapy?
Family therapy can strengthen relationships and help family members form new connections after long periods away from each other. Family therapy can help family relationships in the following ways:
Strengthening relationships – By talking through problems in relationships during marriage counseling sessions families become stronger and more willing to overcome turmoil and change problematic behaviors.
Preventing breakups – A family therapist can often save a marriage or romantic relationship through functional family therapy and addressing problems in family relationships.
Improve communication – Your family therapist will show you how to communicate with constructive language instead of allowing disagreements to fall into arguments.
Remedying mental illness – Improving the family system and communication methods between family members can reduce behavioral problems and improve general mental health for individuals and make for a happier family life.
Overcoming mental disorders – Mental disorders can put a strain on relationships and family therapy work can help reduce their effects on other family members.
Overcoming financial issues – Supportive family therapy can help stressed workers overcome the effects that mental health conditions can bring and also help family members make sound financial decisions.
Dealing with major life events – Major life transitions such as moving to a new country, death and situational changes can strain relationships and it’s essential that family members interact positively to develop the coping skills needed to move forward together.
Relieving the effects of chronic illness – Chronic illness has a major effect on carers – not just the one family member directly affected. In order to help blood relations think positively about other members of the family it is important to speak through the effects that chronic illness can cause, many types of family therapy can help to form coping mechanisms within the family system.
How Can It Help Different Family Members?
Spouses – Spouses benefit from family therapy by having improved emotional and physical connections with their partners and reducing the likelihood of disloyalty. Arguments can be reduced to disagreements and therapy sessions can be used to work through these and solve problems with a mediator present.
Children – Therapists should make family therapy a success for all family members and by allowing children to have their thoughts and opinions taken into account can give rise to happier and more friendly relationships with their parents. Family psychotherapy can help children to make better decisions and reduce the need for punishment in the household.
Family members struggling with drug or alcohol addiction – In some cases, a family member struggling with addiction will be using the substance to deal with a problem coming from within the family. By using family therapy – the need for the drug can be removed by removing the source of the problem, whether it be other family members, mental health conditions, or problems in major life transitions.
Family Therapists – Who Are They?
Family therapists are usually psychologists, mental health professionals, therapists, and social workers. The most qualified therapists are backed by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy where family therapy is treated as a medical profession just like psychiatry. To gain the highest level of qualification professionals undergo a master’s or postgraduate program of between two to three years.
Is Family Therapy For Me?
Family therapy is not necessary for all, another type of therapy may suit your needs better depending on your situation. Family therapy is the most appropriate form of therapy for problems spread through multiple generations. Social problems that have been passed down from generation to generation likely have a common cause. Family counseling sessions can identify the source of the problem and create plans to solve them and prevent them from going further.
When drugs and alcohol contribute to a poor state of mental health in the family, the potential for violence is much higher and communication is more likely to break down. In these situations, the benefits of family therapy are a lot clearer. The National Institute for Health has referenced the use of family therapy in relationships with intimate partner violence and it has been used to help the situation when a partner doesn’t want to leave the relationship.
Family therapy can also be very useful in breaking negative family patterns. Negative family patterns such as lying or a lack of trust can be hard to break alone, talk therapy helps families to change behavioral patterns and re-develop previous trust and bonds from past happier times.
How Your Family Can Get Help?
Does your family have deep-rooted problems that don’t seem to be getting any better alone? Perhaps you and your family would benefit from family counseling sessions to work together to find solutions to promote a brighter and happier future for you all.
If you want to speak to a family therapist or other mental health professional click here to GET SUPPORT TODAY and let our experienced professionals listen to your problems and make them better.