Family therapy is a form of counseling that focuses on the psychological problems between different members of a family unit. The therapist overseeing the session works alongside family members to create treatment plans designed to help everyone communicate better and develop healthier, happier relationships.

Who is family therapy for?


Picture an average family and you might imagine a scene with two parents and two children. While this image certainly is a family, there are many other dynamics that are also defined by the term “family”:

  • Single parent and a child

  • Two separated parents and a child

  • Parents and adopted children

  • Newly-together parents with children from separate families

  • Foster parents, biological children, and foster children

  • Grandparents and grandchildren

  • Children, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc

Families take many different shapes and forms. No matter what the structure looks like, all family units are valid and can benefit from family therapy to help solve their problems.

Each family is a connected, integrated unit that is greatly influenced by the way each person in the family behaves as an individual, as well as how the family unit behaves as a whole. When problems arise between two family members, they can affect many other people in the unit.

Types of family therapy  

There are several different types of family therapy, each designed for distinct dynamics and problems. Some forms of counseling address the family as a whole, with each session attended by every family member. Others focus more on specific issues caused by couples or individuals, with only a select few family members attending each session.

Here’s an overview of the different types of family therapy and the types of issues they’re best at resolving:

Structural family therapy 

Structural family therapy (SFT) is one of the most common types of family counseling. Instead of concentrating on each individual family member’s issues, it looks at the problems the family has as a whole. After determining the issues, family therapy continues with group sessions involving everyone.

This type of family counseling is most effective for blended families, families at risk, families which have been through significant trauma, and single-parent families. Although it can be used as a way of resolving many family-related problems, it’s most helpful when all other options have failed.

Bowenian family therapy

Bowenian family therapy is a family systems theory based on the notion that people are the result of an evolutionary process. It considers problems to be a multigenerational issue. Unless they’re resolved in the individual, each family member will continue to pass down their unresolved emotional attachments to others.

This form of therapy focuses on helping individuals and couples with the power to affect other family members make changes in their lives and relationships. Through self-differentiation, the individual or couple’s problems are initially resolved. This causes a snowball-like effect, relieving the stress and anxiety in other family members, improving the overall unit.

Bowenian family therapy is most effective when one individual or couple is the primary cause of the family’s conflict.

Strategic family therapy  

This form of family counseling employs solution-focused techniques which state that family members don’t develop issues in isolation. Their problems are created as a response to their social environment. In strategic family therapy, the counselor helps family members develop techniques to solve the specific problems that are unique to the family’s structure and communications.

Instead of focusing on the individual, the problems are seen in terms of the social structure or situation. The overall goal of strategic family therapy is to resolve issues, achieve the family’s specific goals, and improve an individual’s problematic behaviors. It’s an effective solution for family problems caused by both an individual and multiple family members.

Is family therapy right for you? 

One family therapy session isn’t going to resolve all your problems. Counseling is a long, complex process that needs time and commitment from everyone involved. You need to fully dedicate yourself to the process. But when you do, family therapy has been proven to be a successful way of improving the relationship and connection you have with others in your family.

It doesn’t matter whether you feel like you’re constantly arguing with your family or you haven’t spoken to each other in months. Admitting that there are problems that need resolving and taking the first step to fixing them speaks volumes. Seeking help for you and your family could be the difference between you creating a healthy, happy family unit and never speaking to each other ever again.

You know family therapy is the right choice when you’ve tried to resolve your differences on your own with no success. Inviting an unbiased professional to help you and your family get to the root of your problems while providing you with effective solutions could be all you need to get back on track.

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