Psychological Therapy: Family Therapy

Last Updated: 15 Apr 2020
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Family Therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on the relationship between family members or partners. While other type of therapy look at individual patients alone, family therapy brings family relationships into the picture. The goal of this therapy is to explore the relationships with other family members that may be the potential cause of the problem or problems of the identified patient (Exploring 503). There are multiple approaches that a family therapist may take. Some of the major techniques include Structural Therapy, Conjoint Therapy, and Strategic Therapy.

Structural Therapy, developed by Salvador Minuchin, focuses on the structure of the family including the relationship with siblings and parents. What makes Structural Therapy different from other forms of Family Therapy is that the therapist involved attempts to become very close to the family in which the identified patient/patients is/are in. This helps the therapist to understand on a deeper level the problems existing amongst the family. Conjoint Therapy tends to look at the duties that each individual in the family takes on and how they communicate amongst each other.

This approach is more common among therapist. The most influential type of therapy, Strategic Therapy, was influenced by the work of Jay Haley. The therapist in this approach leads the therapy sessions by asking questions and starting discussions. This forward approach triggers feelings and actions from the family involved. Which ever approach the therapist takes, all are effective forms of therapy. In some cases, Family Therapy can be risky for therapists if the relationship between family members or couples is tense.

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Safety is the number one concern for therapist especially in earlier sessions of counseling (Effectiveness of Couple 1). Family therapy can be a very effective form of therapy if the family involved participates fully. The family bond is the most powerful social connection that an individual can have. That is why people with mental illness, substance abuse, or other disorders tend to have had relationship issues with their parents when they were younger. A close emotional tie with your family is key to living a healthy life free of substance abuse and/or risky behaviors.

For this reason, Family Therapy can be very effective, especially for teenagers and younger children. One of the biggest issues amongst teenagers and their parents is lack of communication. Teens often live second lives that they tend to hide from their parents and siblings. If trying to solve family issues in individual therapy, the teen can say whatever he pleases about his family. However, when Family therapy is taking place, the teen’s actions and responses with the family can be seen firsthand and problems can then be solved.

In Family Therapy, the therapist and induce communication among the family members which can lead to positive results. Communication is key. Once the family can learn to be honest with each other, whether it is the teenager and their parents, or the teenager and their sibling, problems caused by miscommunication can be eliminated. Family Therapy can also be useful for families who have children with mental disabilities. This type of therapy can help them understand what exactly their child is going through and how they need to adjust in order to make things better off.

Dr. Josephson, a professor and chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, states that “family therapy can help parents adjust their behavior to best manage their child's condition while a physician or mental health professional treats the child individually with medications or behavioral methods”(Family). Family Therapy can be a very effective form of therapy is because of its lasting effects. Family therapy can last anywhere from three months to three years.

However, no matter how long the therapy is, families tend to stay in a well-balanced healthy relationship with each other. When parents see how communication can easily solve family issues, they feel empowered to fix future problems using the same techniques they learned from their family therapy sessions. This allows families to have long lasting hearty relationship. A major sub category of Family Therapy is marriage counseling. According to Dr. Aliso Viejo, less than 5% of divorcing couples actually seek marriage counseling (The Benefits 1).

The more common reasons that couples attend marriage counseling include poor communication, financial issues, sexual problems, parenting conflicts, infidelity, anger and substance abuse (Effectiveness 2). However, marriage-counseling uses the same techniques described earlier. Therapist attempt to improve communication and the relationship between partners, instead of attempting to fix individual problems. However, there are exceptions to this. If on of the partners is a heavy alcohol consumer, the therapist may suggest that the person attend substance abuse meetings or counseling.

According to AAMFT, or The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 98% of couples that go through marriage counseling report positive results (Effectiveness 1). With that said, some relationships are just not meant to be and counseling or therapy may be useless. This usually occurs when married couples are seeing other partners secretly and want to end a marriage as soon as they possibly can. Family therapy can be a very effective approach for seeking out problems due to miscommunication amongst a household.

Not only does Family Therapy fix the identified patients problem, but the family, whether it is a husband and his spouse or a 5 member family, is better off. The family can also improve their relational skills with each other and even people outside of the family. Either way, when multiple people are working together to fix a problem among a family, positive results will be seen in a shorter amount of time. Works Cited Aliso, Viejo, Dr. "The Benefits of Marriage Counseling. " Healthy Exchange (2012): n. pag. Print. Carolla, Michael. Effectiveness of Couples Therapy. " Journal of Marraige and Family Therapy (2003): n. pag. Print. Graffenreid, Ellen. "Family Therapy Is Effective Treatment Tool for Children for Substance Abuse and Conduct Disorders. " Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 12 Aug. 2005. Web. 30 Nov. 2012. <http://www. medicalnewstoday. com/releases/29014. php>. Myers, David G. Exploring Psychology. New York, NY: Worth, 2011. Print. Nerfer, Barb. "Effectiveness of Marriage Counseling. " Family Health (2012): 33-35. Print.

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Psychological Therapy: Family Therapy. (2017, Apr 09). Retrieved from

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