What is Family Therapy?

When more than one member of a family are seen together in a therapy setting, it is called Family Therapy. The meeting of a couple, a parent and a child, siblings, or a multi-generation family with a family therapist all fall within the scope of family therapy.

When is family therapy indicated? Family therapy is indicated when the focus of therapy or counselling is related to changing or addressing unhealthy interactions between family members, aimed at improving the family functioning as a unit or improve functioning of individual members of the family.

Family therapy can be applied or approached for variety of conditions. Therapy can be used for or aimed at resolving difficulties between couple such as marital dissatisfaction, sexual or intimacy difficulties, therapy aimed at overcoming differences parents and their grown up children, or to address problems in the behavior of a family member and the consequent effects on other family members.

How does family therapy help? Family therapist focuses on the functioning of the family as a unit by careful and objective observations made while family members interact with each other in a therapy setting. In a family relationship, the relation is considered as a product of interactions happening between members as a process. For example, if a person addicted to alcohol reasons that his or her consumption is due to stress created within the family, the family members may reason that the stressful environment is created by the person’s alcoholism. The reasoning in this instance runs in circles with it being difficult to establish which came first- the stress or the alcoholism. Similarly, if a parent sees his child has a troublesome behavior, the child may reason that the parent never took time to understand their views. In a family therapy setting, the process of circular reasoning is carefully interpreted and the family given feedback to work out towards a more workable solution. The functioning of a family together will be the focus of counselling in a family therapy setting rather than focusing on changing an individual person. That means, all members are expected to change to have a possible resolution rather than holding onto or focusing on one member alone as a reason for difficulty.

Family therapy strengthens emotional bonding between members of a family by making them aware of the unhealthy behaviors of individual members , the aim of the therapy and the need for collaboration between all members towards achieving a desirable harmony that will improve overall functioning of the family as a unit. It gives a clarity to all members of the family involved in therapy as to how each member is contributing to the dysfunctional state.

There are different treatment or therapy models utilized by family therapist based on the nature of the problem, availability of family members and complexity of the family dysfunctioning. The cooperation of the members is a vital component for the success of the family therapy.

 

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