What Happens in Family Therapy?

family hands holding tiny tree

Family therapy is beneficial for a variety of reasons – it helps people understand one another, it helps families work through issues, it helps family members support a person suffering from an addiction or mental illness, and more. Family therapy often gives people a chance to work through issues that otherwise would be difficult to work through on their own – a supervised, neutral setting with an experience psychologist to help guide individuals through a respectful discussion can prove transformative. According to Desert Hope,

“Family therapy concentrates on determining and adjusting how the overall structure, patterns of communication, aspects of relationships, power structure, and other aspects of the family system are affected by whatever issue is being addressed.”

In family therapy, the therapist typically meets with individuals as well as other family members. After a few meetings with the family members, a therapist can often tell which form of treatment will work best. Family therapy has been shown to help people work through depression, obesity, alcoholism and drug abuse, although that list is not exhaustive. Dr. Nichols mentioned on Good Therapy that at the beginning of the sessions, she will provide information on confidentiality, who needs to attend ongoing sessions, the rules, her role, and expectations for everyone. This helps all family members to know what to expect and what is required of them.

A variety of techniques may be used by a family therapist, and family members are expected to be respectful, honest, and take responsibility for themselves. One newly popular technique studied in Contemporary Family Therapy is Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH), or wilderness therapy, and involves family members partaking in outdoor activities to help them relieve stress and to use nature as both reality and metaphorical for their therapy needs. Of course, traditional therapeutic methods are also widely used.  

Narrative therapy was also mentioned as a contributing beneficiary to therapy by allowing family members to externalize their situations, deconstruct problematic narratives by asking questions, identify unique outcomes or times when someone was not oppressed by an issue, link unique outcomes to future alternatives, invite members of a social network to witness the new narrative, and document new knowledge that has taken place.

The techniques mentioned above are just 2 of many, but typically involves families working individually and together with a therapist to overcome family concerns. Family therapy could be a great tool for you to use if you wish to resolve family issues and bring the family closer together. If you are considering using this, speak with a therapist today to determine the right fit for you and your family.


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