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Family therapy, also referred to as couple and family therapymarriage and family therapyfamily systems therapy, and family counseling, is a branch of psychotherapy that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. It tends to view change in terms of the systems of interaction between family members.

Family therapy is a type of psychological counseling (psychotherapy) that can help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts.

Family therapy is usually provided by a psychologist, clinical social worker or licensed therapist. These therapists have graduate or postgraduate degrees and may be credentialed by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

Family therapy is often short term. It may include all family members or just those able or willing to participate. Your specific treatment plan will depend on your family’s situation. Family therapy sessions can teach you skills to deepen family connections and get through stressful times, even after you’re done going to therapy sessions.

It should be noted that in family therapy or counseling, the term “family” does not necessarily mean blood relatives. In this context, “family” is anyone who “plays a long-term supportive role in one’s life, which may not mean blood relations or family members in the same household” (King, 2017).

Purpose

The goal of family therapy is to help family members improve communication, solve family problems, understand and handle special family situations (for example, death, serious physical or mental illness, or child and adolescent issues), and create a better functioning home environment. For families with one member who has a serious physical or mental illness, family therapy can educate families about the illness and work out problems associated with care of the family member. For children and adolescents, family therapy most often is used when the child or adolescent has a personality, anxiety , or mood disorder that impairs their family and social functioning, and when a stepfamily is formed or begins having difficulties adjusting to the new family life. Families with members from a mixture of racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds, as well as families made up of same-sex couples who are raising children, may also benefit from

Why it’s done

Family therapy can help you improve troubled relationships with your partner, children or other family members. You may address specific issues such as marital or financial problems, conflict between parents and children, or the impact of substance abuse or a mental illness on the entire family.

Your family may pursue family therapy along with other types of mental health treatment, especially if one of you has a mental illness or addiction that also requires additional therapy or rehabilitation treatment. For example:

Family therapy can be useful in any family situation that causes stress, grief, anger or conflict. It can help you and your family members understand one another better and learn coping skills to bring you closer together.

Preparation

In some instances the family may have been referred to a specialist in family therapy by their pediatrician or other primary care provider. It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of office visits to pediatricians have to do with developmental problems in children that are affecting their families. Some family doctors use symptom checklists or psychological screeners to assess a family’s need for therapy. For children and adolescents with a diagnosed psychological disorder, family therapy may be added to individual therapy if family issues are identified as contributing factors during individual therapy.

Family therapists may be either psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, or other professionals certified by a specialty board in marriage and family therapy. They usually evaluate a family for treatment by scheduling a series of interviews with the members of the immediate family, including young children, and significant or symptomatic members of the extended family. This process allows the therapist(s) to find out how each member of the family sees the problem, as well as to form first impressions of the family’s functioning. Family therapists typically look for the level and types of emotions expressed, patterns of dominance and submission, the roles played by family members, communication styles, and the locations of emotional triangles. They also note whether these patterns are rigid or relatively flexible.

Preparation also usually includes drawing a genogram, which is a diagram that depicts significant persons and events in the family’s history. Genograms include annotations about the medical history and major personality traits of each member. Genograms help uncover intergenerational patterns of behavior, marriage choices, family alliances and conflicts, the existence of family secrets, and other information that sheds light on the family’s present situation

These are the most common types of family therapy:

References:

http://www.healthofchildren.com/E-F/Family-Therapy.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_therapy

http://www.healthofchildren.com/E-F/Family-Therapy.htmlhttps://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/family-therapy/about/pac-20385237