Family therapy is one of the most prevalent and common forms of psychotherapy. It helps reduce conflict by strengthening and enhancing the way in which family members interact and communicate with each other.
Family therapy aims at helping families deal with issues that may be causing conflict or disagreements amongst family members- such as Substance Abuse. Unlike individual counselling, family therapy requires that all members of the family participate.
As a counselling technique, family therapy views issues as system that needs fixing, as opposed to individual counselling, which views problems as pertaining to an individual. This is the reason why most people refer to family therapy as a “strength-based treatment.”
In family therapy, the word ‘family” is used to define anyone who plays an active and long-term supportive role in the life of another person, and this doesn’t necessarily have to involve any blood relations or family members.
Family therapists believe that family counseling is important and necessary for a family that is struggling to be functional as a unit, regardless of whether some or all family members get counselling.
It is a kind of Psychotherapy that can help family members deal with a member of the family who is problematic or one who is struggling with mental or health issues. It is also advised that families who are experiencing increased conflict and poor communication should take part in family therapy.
Other reasons why people seek family therapy include:
- When a child is having issues adjusting to certain areas of his or her life (such as poor grades, substance abuse, insomnia, poor sleeping and eating habits, etc.)
- Parental conflict
- A major change or sift that affects every member of the family (such as relocation to a new city, a family member going to jail, etc.)
- Dealing with an unexpected death in the family
- Adjusting to the presence of an entirely new family member in the home (such as the birth of a new sibling, the decision to adopt foster children, the permanent infusion of a grandparent in the home, etc.)
- Domestic violence
- Divorce or separation
An Overview of the Most Popular Forms of Family Therapy and Intervention
Family therapists have specialized skills and experience in handling family-related issues. In general, therapists should have some experience in treating marital conflicts, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and behavioral problems.
For family therapy to be successful, it is recommended that a professional who is certified and adequately trained to be a counselor performs it. Every qualified Marriage and Family Therapist is required to do some family therapy as a precursor to their accreditation.
The following overview can be used to select the best form of family therapy for you:
Bowenian Family Therapy is a form of family therapy that is ideal for people who would rather not bring their family members into the therapy room. This form of family therapy makes use of two core concepts; differentiation and triangulation. Triangulation deals with the natural propensity to avert the occurrence of conflict by introducing a third party. Differentiation, on the other hand, has to do more with learning ways to react less emotionally to pressure on the relationships with one’s family members. Various strategies are used in reducing the levels of emotional reactivity and enhance emotional uprightness among members of a family.
Structural Family Therapy works mainly on the ability to re-order the family system according to the distribution and allocation of roles and powers between various members of the same family. Under this form of family therapy, issues such as hierarchy are addresses and ironed out, and an emphasis is put on the ability of the parents to take charge and collaborate more effectively in setting the proper boundaries for their children. The therapist can also increase relationships between children and adults by ensuring that no one person or two people have too much power in the household.
The Systemic Family Therapy technique focuses in finding meanings behind the behaviors of various family members. It postulates that communications between family members are occurring on the subconscious level. Under this technique the approach of the therapist is more distant and neutral, but the family members are also made to imbibe certain behaviors and patterns that provide better insights into why it seems like a specific problem keeps occurring. No one person is seen as consolidating all the power in the family as well.
The Advantages of Family Therapy and Intervention
There are various ways through which family therapy can be useful. A session on family therapy that is well conducted should be able to help with the following:
The development of healthy boundaries
One of the major issues that parents face today is how to set boundaries for their children to follow, understand, and live by. With family therapy, parents are able to achieve this more effectively. Family therapy helps set boundaries, and parents are made aware of how to react in an event that a child breaks these boundaries.
Members of the family are taught to obey hierarchies, and the balance of power is spread evenly in such a way that everyone is able to respect the order and how things are.
Building healthy family patterns
Through family therapy, healthy habits and patterns that are built by members of the family can be used to help all members easily work through future conflicts.
Perhaps the biggest and most significant advantage of family therapy will have to be the increased level of communication and cohesion that it creates among family members. Family therapy works on the principle that conflicts are inevitable, but it teaches family members to better communicate in times of tension and conflict. They are taught to speak their minds and communicate in a way that is not destructive.
Empathy and understanding
By learning to put themselves in each other’s shoes, family members are able to build empathy and a sense of understanding for the situation that every other person finds him or herself in. An increased level of understanding will lead to more effective communication, and this will go a long way in helping to ease tension, and fight the occurrence of conflict.
It enhances problem solving within the family
Thanks to its ability to enhance the understanding of patterns and dynamics in the family, family therapy is also able to help solve problems – sometimes, even before they arise.
It reduces conflicts in the family
The major goal of every family therapy session is the reduction of conflicts in the family. An amalgamation of all the previous advantages is ideally supposed to lead to this. However, it is also essential to understand that family therapy doesn’t mean the total abdication of conflicts in the family. Rather, it means that while these conflict will be reduced, the family will also be well equipped to handle those that are so pronounced that they are actually noticed by all members.