Family therapy gives families the chance to express and explore their feelings in a safe, non-judgemental environment. Often the aim is to improve communication, discuss and resolve any differences and difficulties, and find a way to move forward together.
The family therapy will look to be inclusive, ensuring that no family member feels like they are being ganged upon. Family therapy looks to recognise each individual’s strengths and to build on these within the sessions with family members working collaboratively. Family therapists will invite engagement from all family members and will be sensitive to the diverse nature of family relationships, beliefs, and cultures.
The entire family doesn’t need to be involved. Family therapists may only work with certain members of the family, with children and adults individually, or with couples. They may even work with other types of groups – the term ‘family’ can cover a range of relationships.
Family therapy can help with a range of difficulties, from relationship difficulties to dealing with trauma and mental illness. Common examples of how family therapy can help include:
- When a family/couple wants to improve their relationship.
- When a member of the family is struggling with addiction.
- When a member of the family is living with a mental illness.
- When a member of the family is living with a disability or chronic illness.
- When parents/guardians are worried about their child’s behaviour.
- In the case of separation, and parents are worried about the impact on the family.
- When a family is coping with loss or trauma.
- When family members are going through a life change (e.g. moving away, changing schools, getting married etc.)
Systemic therapy is a form of family therapy that seeks to reduce distress and conflict within family dynamics by addressing and improve the systems of interactions between individuals. Like family therapy, systemic therapy can involve the whole family, certain family members, extended family, friends, carers, and so on.
Systemic therapy aims to identify deep-rooted patterns within individual relationships with family members.