The word “family” can define anyone: parents and children, spouses, in-laws, step-siblings, blended families, the list goes on and on. No matter who you consider family, your relationships with these people can have a significant impact on your mental health. Family therapy, a special kind of group therapy, is specifically designed to help with issues that affect family dynamics.
But does family therapy actually work? And if it does, how is it able to repair fractured familial relationships? Keep reading to learn more about the power and effectiveness of family therapy.
What Is Family Therapy?
Family therapy is a type of psychological therapy, or psychotherapy, that focuses on reaching certain goals related to family interactions and dynamics. A family therapy session occurs when several members of a family seek counseling together as a group. The entire family doesn’t need to be involved, but it helps to have as many immediate family members present as possible. These sessions typically explore conflicts, behavioral patterns, and ways of communicating within a family system.
Family therapy can be used to help with a variety of different familial issues, including:
- Financial problems
- Marital problems
- Communications problems
- Childhood trauma
- Big life transitions
- Death of a loved one
- Serious illness
- Mental health conditions
- Substance abuse disorders
- Conflicts between family members
- Behavioral issues in children and teens
While generally short-term and kept at about 12 sessions, family therapy may be extended if the therapist and family think it would be helpful to continue.
How Family Therapy Works
This type of therapy is usually guided by one of several evidence-based treatment approaches. In some cases, the therapist may blend some elements of multiple approaches if they think the family would benefit from it. To decide which approaches to use and create an official treatment plan, the therapist may conduct an assessment before the first session. This will give them a deeper understanding of each member of the family and their relationships with one another.
Regardless of which techniques or approaches a therapist uses in family therapy, they will usually have the same common goals. These goals may include pointing out the family’s strengths, exploring how family members interact, understanding unique issues they may face, identifying unhealthy communication patterns and improving them, giving the family better problem-solving skills, creating a healthy home environment, and more.
The goals above seem promising, but are they actually achievable? Is family therapy truly able to resolve years of family conflict or trauma?
Is Family Therapy Effective?
Yes, family therapy can be very effective. There is sufficient evidence supporting that family therapy is, in fact, an effective form of counseling. Family therapy has the potential to improve communication skills, strengthen relationships, develop healthy boundaries, provide strategies for handling conflict, identify problem areas within a family, offer new insight, and provide coping skills for dealing with challenging situations. However, it is important to keep in mind that family therapy can only be successful if every family member participating is fully committed to communicating and working to repair relationships.
Getting Started With Family Therapy
If you and your family have decided to start going to therapy, the next step is selecting a therapist. Finding the right therapist for your family is extremely important and can make or break the experience. You should choose someone who makes all members of the family feel heard and understood during sessions. Additionally, you may want to pick someone who specializes in specific issues or circumstances that affect your family. Ask therapists questions about their treatment style and approach before making a decision. And finally, consider choosing someone who is easily accessible to all members of the family or who offers virtual services. This will make the process much more convenient for all family members involved.
At Elium Health, we offer in-person and virtual family therapy sessions for families throughout Philadelphia, Bucks County, and surrounding areas. To learn more about our family therapy offerings or any or our many other mental health treatment services, contact our team of specialists by giving us a call at 866-552-3758 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.