Family therapy is a type of psychotherapy used to help resolve any kinds of family issues. Contrary to what you might have heard, family therapy is not a long process or a chance to apportion blame, but it really can help all kinds of families.
What separates family therapy from other kinds of psychotherapy is its approach: a therapist looks at family relationships and interaction, not the specific problems associated with one person.
Instead, they focus on the systems of individuals – this could be their coping mechanisms, communication, behavioural patterns, family rules, and so on – and the impact of their relationships, either negative or positive, on each other. This is where the first misconception of family therapy comes up: many people assume the therapist wants to blame parents for a child’s problems, but this isn’t the case. The whole family dynamic is explored, and the therapist wants to maintain a good relationship with parents and children.
How Family Therapy Works
Problem-solving is more important to family therapists than naming the single cause of a difficulty. For example, a family therapist may see more than one family member at each session, and aim to relate the conversations and patterns of each family member to the others. This might involve seeing the parents without the children, and vice versa.
There is no rule of having certain family members allowed in each session; family therapy is delivered on a case-by-case basis, and it may become clear a couple of sessions in that the therapist needs to do more work with some family members instead of others. Your specific treatment plan will depend on your family’s situation. Family therapy sessions can teach you skills to deepen family connections and get through stressful times, even after you have finished going to treatment.
Since a significant amount of stress is involved for families seeking therapy, the therapist aims to involve families in solutions for problems. The overarching belief in all different forms of family therapy is that involving the family can bring out the strengths of the wider system.
Family therapy is often short-term, which can surprise new clients, as TV dramas and films can often give the impression you’ll need months or years of treatment. Typically, a family intervention would take only 4 – 6 sessions.
Contact Christine Tizzard Psychology today to arrange a consultation about family therapy, and we can discuss your family’s needs.