Family therapy is a type of psychotherapy that involves multiple family members, including the person who is directly receiving formal treatment. Since it involves multiple participants, it is structured similarly to group therapy. The main difference is that group therapy can involve strangers, whereas family therapy consists of just close family.
The perspective in family therapy also differs from individual therapy. Family therapy attempts to tackle issues that resonate throughout the family in different established patterns or ways of being. If the issue at the core of family therapy is someone’s mental health or substance abuse disorder, that person is not singled out or identified as the source of the problem. Rather, family therapy takes a larger view of the whole family unit and attempts to break down how the family structure contributes to or influences a family-wide problem.
How Does Family Therapy Work?
Family therapy is a flexible structure. It is widely applicable to several different situations. It is commonly used in mental health and substance abuse treatment to bolster the individual treatment someone is receiving. It can also be delivered to an entire family unit as a means of addressing some larger issue, such as divorce, a major death in the family, or interpersonal conflict between parents and children.
Most of the time, family therapy is goal-focused and short-term. Time spent in family therapy will explore the patterns and dynamics at play that are leading to sources of tension and stress between family members. A few of the most significant benefits of family therapy include the following:
- Better communication among family members
- Coping skills for navigating difficult situations
- Insight or understanding into a family’s structure or problem-areas
- Strategies for managing conflict
- Strengthened relationships
Common Family Therapy Approaches
The structure used to guide family therapy sessions is flexible. Each family is different and brings different needs to the table. The four most common types of family therapy are systemic family therapy, structural family therapy, brief strategic family therapy, and psychoeducation.
Systemic Family Therapy
The main goal of systemic family therapy is to help participants understand their family as a system with rules of operation and procedure. Participants are guided through recognizing how each person’s actions affect everyone else and the family unit as a whole.
Structural Family Therapy
Structural family therapy is based on the premise that negative emotions and behaviors in children and teens are largely influenced by dysfunctional family structures. This approach prioritizes getting family members to establish healthy boundaries and ground rules that support more positive interactions between all family members.
Brief Strategic Family Therapy
This method is labeled brief because it rarely goes longer than 12 sessions. The purpose of brief strategic family therapy is to address the problematic behavior of a child or teen by changing the behavior patterns in a family that lead to the child or teen acting out.
This last type of family therapy incorporates education about mental health conditions into each session. The goal is to help family members understand how mental health influences the family unit and how the manifestation of mental health disorders affect family relationships.
Find Family Therapy at Serenity Grove
Whether you need family therapy as part of a larger recovery from substance abuse or your family needs intervention for a specific interpersonal issue, Serenity Grove is here to help. We will help you map your family structure, learn and grow together, and problem-solve through a treatment plan that is built around your goals.