Published on 03 October 2021

Family Therapy: Definition, Types, Benefits

Psychological Therapy family-therapy-definition-types-benefits
Table of Contents

We all begin our lives with a family, where people are related by blood, marriage, adoption, or foster. Our family significantly affects who we are and who we become, for better or for worse; the language we speak, the food we eat, our personality, customs and rituals, and how we view and observe the world around us.

We also learn how to love and interact with others from these initial relationships. Family relationships are very important to our physical and mental health, and family therapy may help us in many situations affecting that affect our family.

If we are born into a family with healthy relationships, we might learn how to maintain healthy relationships and follow a healthy lifestyle.

Whereas if we are born into a dysfunctional family with unhealthy relationships that struggle to connect, we may also struggle to communicate with others.

While it is certainly unfortunate to be born into the latter kind of family, it is not an unchangeable situation. Almost every family deals with some sort of issue or situation at one time or another, yet most regain a sense of happiness and wholeness.

Family therapy offers a way to do this. It helps maintain and develop a healthy, functional family. You must know what family therapy is, its uses, and why it's important to us.

What Is Family Therapy?

Family therapy or Family Counseling is a type of counseling that is specially designed for families going through a hard time, whether due to anger, stress, or grief. It is also intended to identify toxic family patterns that contribute to behavioral disorders or mental illness and help family members rectify those habits. 

In family therapy, the term ‘family’ doesn’t necessarily to have mean blood relatives. In this context, ‘family’ means anyone who “plays a significant role in one’s life, which may not imply blood relations or family members of the same household.”

It can help children, couples, or members of an extended family to communicate better if there is

  • Unexpected illness, death, or unemployment;
  • Interpersonal conflicts within couples or families;
  • Maintaining or developing a healthy romantic relationship at any stage;
  • Divorce or separation in relationships;
  • Behavioral problems in/with children;
  • Mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
  • Substance abuse or addiction;

How Does Family Therapy Work?

A type of psychotherapy designed for families going through a tough time, whether due to anger, stress, or grief. It is also intended to identify toxic family patterns that contribute to behavioral disorders or mental illness and help family members rectify those habits.

In family therapy, the term ‘family’ doesn’t necessarily to have mean blood relatives. Family means anyone who “plays a significant role in one’s life, which may not imply blood relations or family members of the same household.”

Family therapy can follow various approaches and techniques from interpersonal therapy, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, or other types of individual therapy. Just as with other types of therapy treatments, the techniques used will depend on the specific problems the person is dealing with.

Frequently asked questions

No, family therapy is not for everyone, but there are some ways to consider before deciding whether therapy can work for you or not. Today, we can use various types of medication techniques that can help us in serious situations.
Family therapy treats the improvement of relationships between family members; this can also help us to treat specific behavioral conditions, like disorders. Behavioral issues of children, Changes within the family, and other issues.
There are lots of reasons to attend family therapy, which can help us to improve our troubled relationships with our family, partners, or children. Other issues like financial or marital problems, parental and child conflicts, or mental illness.

How Does The Therapist Treat?

Thereparists have their own way of dealing with people in terms of treating the condition. The way of treating is presented below:

  • Observe how people interact within units;
  • Evaluate and resolve relationship problems;
  • Highlight problematic relational or behavioral patterns;
  • Help replace dysfunctional behaviors with healthy alternatives;
  • Guide clients through transitional crises such as children (born or growing up), divorce, or death;
  • Diagnose and treat any psychological disorders within the family context;
  • Take a holistic (mind and body) approach to wellness

Common Types Of Family Therapy

  • Bowenian

This form of family therapy is favorable for situations wherein the client cannot or doesn’t want to involve other family members in the therapy. The basis of Bowenian therapy is built on two fundamental concepts:

    • Triangulation (to vent or distress by talking to a third party) and
    • Differentiation (learning to become less emotionally vulnerable and reactive in family relationships)
  • Structural

Structural therapy focuses on regulating and strengthening the family system for proper management, communication, and setting healthy boundaries. In this type of therapy, the therapist joins the family to observe, learn, improve, and strengthen the family’s relationships.

  • Systemic

Systemic therapy refers to the type of therapy which mainly focuses on the unconscious communication behind the behaviors of family members. The therapist in this form of treatment remains neutral and distant, allowing the family members themselves to dive deeper into their problems as a family;

  • Strategic

This type of therapy is typically more brief and direct than the rest, wherein the therapist assigns tasks and homework to perform in between the sessions to the family. This homework is intended to modify the way family members interact with each other by assessing and adjusting the way they communicate with one another and make decisions.

The therapist takes the position of authority, allowing other members of the family who may not usually hold as much power to communicate their thoughts and views more effectively.

Techniques Of Family Therapy 

The techniques used in family therapy usually depend upon the factors like the theoretical orientation of the counselor and the needs of the family. Here are some techniques that are mostly used in family therapy:

Behavioral Techniques

These techniques mostly focus on psychoeducation and skills training to help family members for addressing their problems. For example, role-playing techniques can help family members to resolve their communication issues.

Psychodynamic Techniques 

This technique are used to understand how all family members respond to the issues they are experiencing in their life. The counselor interacts with each family member to develop new emotions and explore new ways of responding more effectively.

Structural Techniques

These techniques mostly focus on helping families with power dynamics and boundaries within the family members. Such techniques help families create new life boundaries and set fresh routines that will improve family functions. 

Benefits of Family Therapy

More stress can impact our family system, and it may start conflict among family members; communication also begins to suffer in this type of situation, which can lead to family conflicts. It can feel more difficult to share our feelings with our family members. In this type of situation, family therapy can help us to resolve our issues.

Family therapy can help couples and families resolve their problems. It can help improve relationships between family members, as well as communication and cooperation within the family unit.

In addition, family therapy can help us to improve parenting skills, increase understanding and acceptance of children, and reduce conflict between parents. It can also help families deal with difficult emotions like anger, resentment, and stress.

Overall, family therapy is a very effective treatment that has many benefits for both the person and their families. If you're looking to get your relationship back on track or are struggling with any family issues, then it may be worth considering seeking out professional help.

Things To Consider While Doing Family Therapy

In a family therapy session, a therapist mostly speaks about the emotional problems and conflicts inside your family. It can be a very upsetting and difficult process for some people. Sometimes, people may feel worse before they start to improve themselves.

It's very important to understand that a professional therapist is available there to help each family member who goes through conflicts and handles emotions that people may experience while doing this therapy.

Family therapy can be useful to deal with various family issues, but it doesn't mean that this therapy is right for everyone or works in every situation. There are some other types of treatment options available that can also be useful in solving family-related issues. Such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or child psychotherapy.

Is Family Therapy Effective?

Family counseling and other family-related therapies, such as parent training, are very effective in many situations, including;

  • Sleep, attachment, and feeding problems
  • recovery from child neglect or child abuse
  • Binge eating,
  • behavioral conditions

Family therapy is very useful in all types of family situation that causes stress, anger, mental issues, and conflict. It can help us to understand our family member's emotions and problems more efficiently and can teach us about coping skills to get us closer together.

The Goal Of Family Therapy

The most important goal of family therapy is to work together to overcome and heal any mental, emotional, or psychological problems tearing the family apart.

Family therapists aim to improve communication, solve family problems, understand and handle family situations, and create a complacent and better-functioning home environment to guide a family toward a healthy life. 

The goals and approach of family therapy depend on the presenting issues of the clients. For instance:

  1. A family member is suffering from autism, schizophrenia, or severe psychosis: The aim is to help other family members understand and adjust to the disorder and the psychological changes that the sufferer may be undergoing.
  2. Families deviating from social norms (gay couples, unmarried parents, raising children, etc.): The goals here are not usually to address any specific internal problems as much; however, the family members may need help to cope up with external factors like judgment and discrimination.
  3. Families coming from different racial, cultural, or religious backgrounds: here, the goal is to help family members enhance their understanding of one another and cultivate healthy relationships.
  4. Problems arising due to cross-generational boundaries, for instance, when parents live with grandparents or children are being raised by the grandparents: The goal here is to help the family members improve communication and set healthy boundaries.
  5. A blended family (step-family): Blended families can suffer from several problems unique to their situations. In blended families, family therapy aims to increase understanding and acceptance and facilitate healthy interactions between all family members.
  6. The patient’s problems seem inextricably bound to problems with other family members, where the problem(s) are deeply rooted in problems with those of other family members, family therapy aims to address every contributing issue and solve or try to mitigate the effects of such issues.
  7. One member of the family is continually being scapegoated or having their individual therapy treatment undermined: When one family member doesn’t receive sufficient support from other family members or struggles with feeling like the outcast, the goal is to increase understanding and empathy for the individual from other family members and support them to continue their treatment.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions 

We hope you have created an interest in family therapy. If you've decided to try this approach for yourself, please consult with a professional therapist about it. Therapy can help if your family needs it, but it's never been designed to run on auto-pilot and there is a lot that can go wrong if you pressure the system without the proper support. 

It is a task for you to get the treatment done in a smooth manner for your benefit. If not, it everything would go in vain. Just have a positive attitude to solve problems. Good luck!