What Is Family Therapy?
Family therapy, also referred to as family systems therapy and family counseling, is a branch of psychotherapy that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development, improve family relationships, and increase interpersonal functioning. It is a type of counseling (psychotherapy) that can help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts.
Family therapy 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 you the skills used to strengthen family connections and get through stressful times, even after you have completed therapy. The insight achieved and skills learned can be carried out long-term.
Family therapy or family counseling is a type of treatment designed to address specific issues affecting the health and functioning of a family. It can be used to help a family through a difficult period, a major transition, or mental or behavioral health challenges in family members.
The term “family” in family therapy or counseling, may also apply to non-relatives. In this context, “family” is anyone who plays a long-term supportive role in one’s life, which may not be blood related or family members in the same household.
This type of therapy is best suited for families who are experiencing difficulties with functioning peacefully and productively. A family therapist has a different approach to treatment than an individual therapist. While an individual therapist works with one client to achieve personal goals and overcome hardship, a family therapist views treatment in the context of the “system” of the family. To find resolution in a system, you need to consider all parts of the system – in this case, all members of the family unit.
Is Family Therapy Right for Us?
Family life is fulfilling as well as challenging and sometimes complicated. It is quite common to experience both sides of this apparent paradox. At times, family hardships can become unmanageable and overwhelming; i.e. beyond a level of “everyday challenging”. It is during such times that family therapy can be helpful. Some of the things that family therapy can help with are:
- Conflict between family members
- Navigating differences in values and communication styles
- Financially related disagreements
- Bonding and reconnection
- Intimacy and sexuality
- Separation or divorce
- A family member’s diagnosis
- Children’s behavioral and emotional challenges
- Relationship difficulties between siblings
- School and Academic related difficulties
- Caring for a family member with special needs
- Discord with extended family members
- A family member’s illness or a death in the family
- Planning for shared custody of children
In short, if your family is unduly stressed by a troublesome or seemingly unresolvable situation, family therapy can help you identify the source of your difficulty and work toward effective solutions.
At Awakened Path, we approach family therapy from a Systems perspective which means the presenting reason for entering treatment is viewed within the context of the family unit as a whole. With the support, guidance and education from one of our therapists, each family member gains a deeper understanding of the family patterns and how their individual choices and actions affect the rest of the family. The family works together to discover their group dynamics and the individual role each member plays within the family unit; devising whether there is a need to adjust those roles for healing to occur. By assisting the family member who is in distress or having difficulty functioning, the group works together to relieve strain on the entire family. The goal is to restore a healthy family system by rebuilding family relationships through a learned ability to support one another effectively.