What is family therapy?
Even close, happy families experience stressors and life transitions. These short-term situations can require developing new coping strategies and developing stronger communication skills. Family therapy is designed to reduce familial conflicts and increase cohesion between members of a family unit.
Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy where therapy focuses on patterns of behavior and roles are explored. A therapeutic plan aims to improve interactions between family members to reduce conflict.
Unlike individual therapy, family therapy uses a framework that takes each member of the group into account when developing a treatment plan. And even though “family therapy” suggests having everyone in the room during a session, this isn’t always feasible. That said, even if they aren’t present, each family member gets consideration.
Family therapy is about relationships
The goal of family therapy isn’t to fix a single family member but to improve family relationships. The strengths-based model of family therapy is focused on improving the mental health of each family member.
Focusing on improving family cohesion is especially important when a member of the family is dealing with mental health challenges. Families dealing with loved ones with neurobehavioral conditions, addiction, anxiety or panic disorders, and depression often seek out family therapy.
It can be helpful to talk to someone when your family is facing difficult or uncertain times.
What are some situations that may create a need for family therapy?
When stressful situations arise, they can lead to feelings of overwhelm. If your family life is less than peaceful, it might be time to consider family therapy to improve communication.
Common reasons that families seek a family therapist or conflict resolution strategies vary. It would be nearly impossible to list every family issue that causes a family to seek out marriage and family therapy.
Many families find professional support and behavioral therapy helpful when dealing with:
- Parental conflict
- Divorce or relationship issues
- Eating Disorders
- Substance use
- Behavioral problems
- Academic or social challenges at school
- Domestic violence
- Financial insecurity
- Chronic Pain, Health Conditions, or End of Life
- Grief or loss of a loved one
- Self-esteem struggles
- Workplace stress
Scheduling regular therapy sessions can help prevent harmful thought patterns from taking over when your family is facing stress or periods of transition. Instead, a compassionate professional can help you establish boundaries and develop coping strategies as you work through stressful situations.
What are the goals of family therapy?
Family therapy is designed to help each member of the family become the best version of themselves. This assists each person to operate more effectively inside the family unit.
For many families, the goals of treatment might be:
- Instilling confidence to create and maintain healthy boundaries
- Facilitating healthy conversation and communication among families
- Helping families treat other members with empathy and understanding
- Developing problem-solving skills
- Deepening understanding of underlying family dynamics
- Reducing conflict
- Changing long held behavioral patterns and responses
- Understanding feelings and motivations
Family therapy can help people in a family deal with conflict and stress, and learn how to better support each other. Successful family therapy can include different forms of treatment.
Different types of therapy may be suggested for different family members, depending on their needs. Every family receives a customized treatment plan.
How is Family Therapy different from Couples Counseling?
Family therapy and couples counseling supports the mental health goals of all the individuals involved. Treatment plans are designed so everyone can benefit from therapeutic interventions to resolve the underlying conflicts and improve relationships.
Family conflicts usually involve multiple family members. Family therapy is designed to address issues arising out of the involvement of various relationships and dynamics within the family as a whole.
Couples counseling focuses primarily on the relationship between two individuals.
Family conflicts can stem from a variety of issues like communication problems, differences in values and beliefs, financial issues, or parenting styles.
Couples seeking counseling typically face issues such as intimacy and communication problems, infidelity, or differences in values and relationship goals.
While family therapy and couples counseling may share some similarities, they are also quite different in scope and approach.
Family therapy focuses on resolving the conflict and improving relationships between family members, whereas couples counseling focuses on improving the relationship between the two individuals seeking counseling.
What if my whole family doesn’t want to attend counseling sessions?
Ideally, when there is conflict in the family, all members of the family should be involved in the treatment plan. It’s important to understand: you can still seek out help to improve your emotional well-being, even if your family isn’t able or willing to participate.
We can provide support to you if you are the only family member seeking help.
You’ll work closely with a therapist to understand your family members’ feelings and how those feelings influence their behavior. Our licensed professional counselors will support you with communication tools to use in your day-to-day living.
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