In Family Therapy, family members meet with a specially-trained therapist who helps them to improve communication, work through and resolve conflicts, improve closeness, and assists with effective teamwork. Family therapy is often short-term and is designed to target specific ends, although the exact treatment plan, goals, and strategies will depend on your family’s unique needs. Ideally, family therapy will include all family members, although not all members will attend all sessions. There are some cases in which only those family members able or willing to participate are included.
The usual goals of family therapy are improving communication, solving family problems, understanding, and handling special family situations, and creating a better-functioning home environment. Family therapy can be useful in any family situation that causes stress, grief, anger, or conflict for family members. Sometimes the stressor comes from outside the family, such as managing stress and recovering together after a natural disaster. Life transitions, such as grieving the loss of a family member or adjusting to becoming new parents, leave the potential for a disconnect that can be avoided or healed through family therapy. At other times, the stressor may be a result of a problem for one family member that impacts everyone, such as managing one person’s serious medical or mental health condition or addiction. Frequently, family therapy addresses problems that arise between members, such as parenting dilemmas, parent-child problems throughout the lifespan of the family, and betrayal trauma.
The benefits derived from Family therapy always include creating more shared understanding between family members, better communication, and more effective problem-solving as a team. You can expect family therapy to bring you closer together and make family interactions more enjoyable. Family therapy includes teaching you new ways to interact and new skills to use that will be useful even after the therapy has concluded. Because multiple family members are learning and changing together, family therapy can often be more effective and efficient than individual approaches.
Family therapy is usually provided by a mental health professional (a psychologist, clinical social worker, mental health counselor or marriage and family therapist) who has received special training and supervision in working with families.