Family Therapy


Family Therapy

Family Therapy is a form of counseling that assists members in improving internal communication and eliminating any conflicts that may be damaging relationships. The treatment is used as a short term method and it may or may not include all of the family members. Treatment plans depend on the issue that the family is dealing with. The sessions teach the group skills that allow them to form a deeper connection with siblings, children or parents. It is most effective in helping a family persist through stressful times and come out of the treatment stronger than they believed they were before. Family counseling is based on becoming familiar with a unique social system and learning how to construct healthy patterns of communication which is often determined by the family’s personalities, beliefs and values.

Goals of Family Therapy

The goal of Family Therapy is to eliminate any conflict that continues to arise within the group. Regardless of who the conflict is with, it may benefit for the entire family to attend the session so that each member has a mutual understanding of each other. This improves all relationships and overall communication. During treatment issues pertaining to finances or marriage and child-parent relationships are addressed. The purpose is to eliminate the problem tearing family members apart by getting to the root of the conflict and finding solutions. If there is mental health present or an addiction it may require the member to have a one-on-one counseling session instead of family therapy. This will help members cope with a situation in a strategic manner. It is most useful when stress or conflict continues to develop. By the end of therapy the members will feel connected and hold a mutual understanding of each other.  

When is Family Therapy Used?

Family Therapy is used when miscommunication, anger and conflict continue to arise. A difficult relationship commonly persists amongst children and parents or between siblings. When the family has a neutral counselor to observe the activity the family members are much more willing to open up and talk about what they feel. Treatment is used when the conflict is preventing family from enjoying life. Regardless of what the problem is - therapy focuses on the issue and collaborates with each member of the group. If during treatment it is found that one is in need of an intervention because of an addiction, individual therapy may be necessary. Sessions are also effective in anticipation of problems which is why it is used beforehand. The treatment is useful in family dealing with relationship issues to reduce negative symptoms such as addiction. The most common method implemented during treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy.

How Family Therapy Works

The therapist acknowledges the issue before teaching the members about how families function in comparison to how they do. It allows the group to focus less on the member who appears to be causing the conflict and more on the entire family. Treatment identifies the anxieties and helps the group create their own strategies so that they can resolve them. Each member will be strengthened and use their own mechanism when resolving issues. The counselor teaches the members how to deal with conflict or change that continues to arise. If the group is handling an issue the wrong way it could result in them developing symptoms that are worse.

Throughout sessions the family is going to find strength in how they can handle themselves in response to others. All of the members own up to their own problems and take responsibility for given actions. It’s often that some individuals need to change their behavior because it is affecting those around them. This is considered an active kind of therapy because assignments are provided, such as giving either the parent or child more responsibilities. The amount of sessions that are needed depends on how bad the problem is and how willing the members are to participate in the activity. Both the group and therapist create goals and speak about the amount of time that it may take to achieve them. Whether or not all family members attend the session depends on the conflict. After treatment the group will have learned more about themselves while also understanding the function of each family member.

Criticism of Family Therapy

There are systematic therapists who will not use the common systemic view during treatment because experts claim that it is outdated in terms of linear systems theory. Although the counselor can critique the family there is no proof that systems therapy is more effective than the use of modern dynamic systems.


Family systems theory. (n.d.). Retrieved from

What is family systems therapy?. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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