What is Family Therapy?
Family Therapy focuses on creating a sense of strength, safety, and unity in a family by creating an environment where the members of the family assist each other in negotiating the challenges they are currently experiencing. The aim is to create a context where emotions and thoughts may be expressed in a safe environment in order for the family members to understand each other’s views and experiences.
“Family Therapy . . . helps people in a close relationship help each other. It enables family members, couples and others who care about each other to express and explore difficult thoughts and emotions safely, to understand each other’s experiences and views, appreciate each other’s needs, build on strengths and make useful changes in their relationships and their lives.” – Association for Family and Systemic Practice
“For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”
Family therapy may be useful in:
- dealing with conflict within the family
- adjusting to the addition of a new family member
- transitioning between the different life stages of a family
- assisting the family in understanding and adjusting to a member with psychological difficulties or any other medical condition
- grieving together after the loss of a family member
- negotiating family dynamics during the process of a divorce
- blending families together when parents re-marry
Frequently asked questions
In order to obtain a clear picture of the individuals in a family and the manner in which they relate to each other, each family member is seen individually first.
Once each member has been heard individually, and possible hindrances to a joint process have been addressed, a therapeutic space is created where family members can work towards more effective communication and more satisfying relationships between family members and within the greater family.
Family therapy may be indicated when families are characterised by high levels of overt or covert conflict that they have difficulty resolving.
Family therapy may assist when a new family member joins the family, for instance, the arrival of a new baby; when developing new family dynamics when parents re-marry (blended families); or in negotiating the changes accompanying the divorce of the parental subsystem.
Family therapy may also assist a family in grieving and adjusting to the loss of a family member or when a family member is diagnosed with an illness and the family needs education and assistance in adjusting to the diagnosis.