Family Therapy, what Is It?
Family therapy or family counseling is designed to address specific issues that affect the psychological health of the family, such as major life transitions or mental health conditions.
It may be used as the primary mode of treatment or as a complementary approach. It brings parents, siblings and extended family members such as aunts, uncles and grandparents into the treatment process. The family system has its own structure and patterns of communication, which may be defined by parenting style, personalities and other influences. Every individual is, in part, a product of the environment they grew up in. Family plays an important role in our emotional, physical and spiritual development since each individual in the family system impacts and is impacted by the others. For example, one person’s illness can change the lives and interactions of all the other family members.
Family therapy may be helpful to:
1. Resolve a specific issue
2. Prepare the family for a major life change such as a divorce or remarriage
3. Address the role that family plays in an individual’s life
Depending on the unique needs and goals of the family, different combinations of family members may participate in each therapy session. The family therapist may give family members assignments to begin addressing some of the challenges identified during therapy.
Families can benefit from therapy when they experience any stressful event that may strain family relationships, such as financial hardship, divorce, or the death of a loved one. In addition, it can be effective in treating mental health concerns that impact the family as a whole, such as depression, substance abuse, chronic illness, and food issues, or everyday concerns, like communication problems, interpersonal conflict, or behavioral problems in children and adolescents.
Family counseling aims to promote understanding and collaboration among family members in order to solve the problems of one or more individuals. For example, if a child is having social and academic problems, therapy will focus on the family patterns that may contribute to the child’s acting out, rather than evaluating the child’s behavior alone. As the family uncovers the source of the problem, they can learn to support the child and other family members and work proactively on minimizing or altering the conditions that contribute to the child’s unwanted behavior.