Family therapy is based on the belief that the family is a unique social system with its own structure and patterns of communication. Many things, including the parents’ beliefs and values, the personalities of all family members, and the influence of the extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc), determine these patterns. As a result of these variables, each family develops its own unique personality, which is powerful and affects all of its members.
Family therapy involves some of the following concepts:
- A mental health diagnosis in one family member may have symptoms that lead to a larger family problem. To treat only the member who identified with the mental health diagnosis is like treating the symptom of a disease but not the disease itself. It is possible that if the person with the mental health diagnosis is treated but the family is not, another family member will become clinically impacted. This cycle will continue until the problems are examined and treated.
- Any change in one member of the family affects both the family structure and each member individually.
How can Family Therapy Help?
- The family and the therapist set mutual goals and discuss the length of time expected to achieve the goals. Not all members of the family attend each session.
- During therapy sessions, the family’s strengths are utilized to help them handle their problems, take responsibility, and develop strategies to assist with identified goals.
- Family therapy is a very active type of therapy, and family members are often given assignments to complete outside of the therapy sessions.
- The number of sessions required varies, depending on the severity of the problems and the willingness of the members to participate in therapy.