Family therapy is a type of psychological counseling (psychotherapy) that can help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts. Family therapy is usually provided by a psychologist, clinical social worker or licensed therapist.
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Family therapy can help you improve troubled relationships with your partner, children or other family members. You may address specific issues such as marital or financial problems, conflict between parents and children, or the impact of substance abuse or a mental illness on the entire family.
Family therapy can be useful in any family situation that causes stress, grief, anger or conflict. It can help you and your family members understand one another better and learn coping skills to bring you closer together.
What to expect?
Family therapy typically brings several family members together for therapy sessions.
During family therapy, you can:
Examine your family's ability to solve problems and express thoughts and emotions in a productive manner
Explore family roles, rules and behavior patterns to identify issues that contribute to conflict — and ways to work through these issues
Identify your family's strengths, such as caring for one another, and weaknesses, such as difficulty confiding in one another
Types of therapy
The techniques utilized in family therapy typically depend on factors such as the theoretical orientation of the therapist and the specific needs of the family. Some methods that may be utilized include:
Behavioral techniques: These methods often focus on skills training and psychoeducation to help family members address specific problems. For example, modeling and role-playing might be used to help family members resolve communication problems.
Psychodynamic techniques: These methods involve assessing how each family member interprets and responds to the problems they are facing. The therapist works with the family to develop new emotional insights and explore new ways of responding more effectively.
Structural techniques: These methods focus on helping family members with boundaries and power dynamics within the family. Such techniques can help families create new boundaries and establish routines that improve how the family functions.
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