How Does Family Therapy Work?

Many families throughout the world have benefitted from attending family therapy together, where they have the opportunity to openly communicate with each other in the hopes of mending relationships.

But how can a few therapy sessions repair damage from the past and set families up for a better future? Below, we’ll discuss how family therapy works and how it can potentially bring family members together.

What Is Family Therapy?

Family therapy is a kind of psychological group therapy designed to help with specific issues that affect family dynamics. These complications may include financial problems, marital issues, communication problems, childhood trauma, big life transitions, death of a loved one, serious illness in the family, mental health conditions, substance abuse disorders, conflicts between family members, behavioral issues in children & teens, and more.

When one or more of these issues affect more than one person in a family, several members of the family may seek out counseling as a group. In these counseling sessions, the family will focus on reaching certain goals related to their interactions.

This type of therapy may help family members:

  • Improve their communication skills
  • Develop healthy boundaries
  • Strengthen their relationships
  • Learn strategies for handling conflict
  • Identify problem areas within the family
  • Develop new coping skills for dealing with challenging situations

There are several different types of therapy that families can explore. While they all have similar goals, their approaches may differ. Some examples of the different types of family therapy include: family systems therapy, functional family therapy, narrative family therapy, psychoeducation, supportive family therapy, and more. Some therapists may stick strictly to one method, while others may mix methods and go with a multimodal approach.

How Family Therapy Works

Before the first family therapy session, the therapist may conduct an assessment with the family members. During the first meeting, they will discuss what brought the family to therapy. The therapist will give each person there the opportunity to talk about the problems they’re facing, the thoughts they’re having, and the difficulties they may be experiencing.

The specialist will then work to gather information about the family’s history, roles, parenting approaches, and coping skills so they can get a clear picture of how the family works. They may even ask participants to think and write about who has the most power in the family to establish everyone’s perspective on the group’s dynamics. These thoughts or written pieces could even be used to create a map that describes the family’s hierarchy, authority, and boundaries.

Once the therapist feels as though they have the knowledge of what the participants are dealing with, the therapist and family will work together to create an effective treatment plan. Throughout treatment, the therapist will get to know each member of the family individually and do their best to understand issues from their perspective.

Family therapy is generally short-term and is kept at about 12 sessions unless the family and therapist agree that more sessions could be beneficial. The whole family does not have to be in attendance at family therapy, but it helps to have as many immediate members there as possible.

Getting Started With Family Therapy

If you and your family would like to attend family therapy, you can start by talking to your psychologist for recommendations or looking online for therapists who specialize in group therapy. It’s important to select someone who makes all members of the family feel equally heard. It could also be helpful to find a therapist who specializes in the situations your family is dealing with. And finally, you should consider selecting a therapist who is easily accessible to all members of the family or who offers a virtual therapy option.

To learn more about family therapy and how it works, contact our team of mental health treatment specialists by giving us a call at 866-552-3758.


Get Started Now

Contact Elium Health today for In-Person and Telehealth Appointments.