Is your family facing big life transitions or psychological challenges? Therapy can help to restore the emotional well-being of your family if you’re going through a difficult time. Sessions with a family therapist play a role in uncovering unhelpful behavioral patterns and the treatment also promotes improved collaboration between family members. During these sessions, you’ll learn strategies that help you to cope with challenging situations more effectively. The benefits of this short-term and solution-focused therapy make it a popular option for families who are struggling to cope with life’s challenges.
What is a Family Therapist?
A family therapist offers treatment that is designed to restore the emotional well-being of families who are facing psychological issues. If a family member is struggling with a mental health condition, it can affect the whole family unit. Family therapists play a role in equipping families with the tools that they need to support individuals who are struggling with mental health concerns. These professionals can also help your family to deal with any underlying causes that are associated with the mental health concerns that your family is facing.
This type of therapy can be used on its own or as a complementary treatment to individual therapy. A family therapist assists people who have a close relationship with each other. These sessions create a safe space for family members to express their emotions and concerns. They allow family members to view conflicts from a range of different perspectives.
If your family is going through a difficult time, therapy can play a role in finding a way forward. Family therapists take into consideration the requirements of each individual in the family system. They aim to identify and build on the strengths of each family member. Sessions are a collaboration between the therapist and your family.
Family Therapy Theory
The origins of family therapy can be traced back to the work of Nathan Ackerman during the 1930s. This form of therapy was developed further by other mental health professionals, such as Virginia Satir and Jay Haley. Family therapy obtained recognition from psychotherapists during the 1960s.
Instead of focusing treatment on an individual, family therapy offers treatment to the whole family. The therapist plays a role in uncovering unhelpful family patterns which helps to reveal the source of the emotional discord within the family. A family therapist typically uses systems theory during their sessions. They may also incorporate psychodynamic theory and cognitive behavioral approaches.
According to family systems theory, the source of unhelpful behaviors in individuals can be located within the family system as a whole. This approach takes the view that dynamics between family members can contribute to unhelpful patterns of behavior.
There are three main approaches to family systems therapy. During structural family therapy, the mental health professional examines the behavioral patterns that are revealed between family members during the sessions. They observe the relationships that exist between individuals during the session in order to draw conclusions about the structure of the family.
Strategic family therapy assesses the family’s behavioral patterns that take place outside the session. Focus areas of this type of therapy include problem-solving skills and communication capabilities. Change is based on implementing strategies that help the family to achieve their therapeutic goals.
A third approach is inter-generational family therapy which takes into account the impact that past generations have on the behavior of individual members. During these sessions, the therapist identifies patterns of behavior that extend over multiple generations.
How Does Family Therapy Cause Change?
Family therapists facilitate change by observing how family members interact and identifying problems within these relationships. They help to develop solutions to the problems that are identified with the aim of restoring the emotional well-being of the family unit.
Family therapists also can diagnose mental health issues within the family and set up treatment plans. They offer families guidance during challenging times, such as the painful emotions that are associated with death or divorce. These mental health professionals identify unhelpful behavior patterns and help family members to develop healthy responses to difficult situations.
Family therapy approaches propose that communication and problem-solving skills can promote the emotional well-being of families. Therapy aims to strengthen the relationships between family members and to equip them with useful coping skills.
The genogram is another useful tool that can be implemented to cause change. The genogram provides a visual representation of family relationships which can be used to identify events that impact the emotional well-being of the family as well as to pinpoint hereditary traits. The genogram is created through interviews with family members and it includes a comprehensive family history that extends back over a minimum of three generations.
What Happens in a Family Therapy Session?
Sessions typically take place every week for a period of 50 minutes. As this therapy concentrates on finding solutions to the issues that your family is facing, it usually requires a short-term commitment over a few months. On average you can expect to attend 9 to 12 sessions depending on the needs of your family. The therapist will adjust the sessions according to the needs of your family. They may suggest individual counseling to complement the group sessions if necessary.
During the sessions you can expect to gain a better understanding of your family. The therapist will also help you to develop the tools that you need to foster collaboration between your family members with the aim of creating a supportive home environment.
The family therapist will ask each person questions to gain a deeper insight into the challenges that your family is facing. This inquiry also gives the therapist insight into the current strategies that your family is using to cope with their challenges. Once they have a better understanding of each person’s perspective on the issues at hand, they’ll formulate a treatment plan.
Does Family Therapy Work?
Family therapy is suitable for couples and families as these sessions have numerous benefits. If your family is facing a difficult situation, such as divorce or death, then you could benefit from this type of therapy. This approach can also be used to alleviate the strain that financial difficulties place on family relationships. If a family member is suffering from depression, eating disorders or addiction it can impact your whole family. In these instances, support from a family therapist is helpful.
Family therapy can also be used in the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety and personality issues. This approach can play a role in restoring the psychological well-being of families who have poor communication and high levels of conflict. Family therapy can assist your family to cope with challenges in healthier ways.
Research shows that family therapy is an effective treatment for psychological challenges and mental health issues. Family therapy can boost your productivity at work as well as strengthening your relationships with your colleagues. It can improve marital relationships and promote community engagement.
This therapy can have a positive impact on your emotional and physical well-being. It’s particularly useful in the treatment of children and adolescents who are displaying behavioral problems. It can also help children to develop the social skills that they need to develop good relationships with their peers. Sessions can play a role in the improvement of school performance.
Concerns/Limitations of Family Therapy
Concerns have been raised about the neutral position that the family therapist takes during the sessions. Critics argue that this stance can make the therapist overlook violence and abuse within the family. The concern is that the process of family therapy may absolve the abuser from the guilt that they need to feel in order to change their behavior.
Another criticism that has been raised is that family therapy doesn’t take into account power dynamics, such as those between adults and children.
In some cases, families may refuse to engage in therapy which makes this approach difficult to implement. Family members who aren’t willing to change or engage in the therapeutic process decrease the efficacy of this approach.
How to Find a Therapist
The best way to find a family therapist is through a referral from someone that you trust. You can ask your doctor if they can refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in family therapy. Another option is to ask your friends if they can recommend a family therapist.
If you aren’t able to get a recommendation, a quick Google search will give you access to the services that you’re looking for. With a diverse range of mental health professionals to choose from, it’s easy to find one who matches your requirements. The therapist that you choose will depend on the challenges that your family is facing as well as your personal preferences.
What Should I be Looking for in an LMFT?
When you’re looking for a family therapist, it’s important to choose a licensed professional. Family therapists typically complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology or social work followed by a relevant master’s qualification. Once they have completed their studies, therapists are usually required to finish two years of supervised work experience. Once they’ve finished this practical component of their training, they’re expected to complete an exam and register with their relevant professional association. After they’ve qualified, they can choose to specialize in family therapy.
One option is to search for a licensed marriage and family therapist. You could also choose to use the services of a professional counselor or social worker who has chosen to specialize in family therapy.
Look for a therapist who upholds high ethical standards, which includes confidentiality and professionalism. Research the therapist online to check if any complaints have been laid against them.
It’s also advantageous to pick a service provider who is committed to ongoing professional development. You can tell if your potential therapist is up-to-date with recent developments in the field of psychology by checking what training or conferences they have attended in the previous year.
While checking the therapist’s qualifications is important, your decision is ultimately a personal one. It’s advisable to choose a trustworthy professional who you feel that you can relate to.
Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist
What qualifications and training do you have?
Do you specialize in family therapy?
Do you have experience treating the mental health concerns that my family is facing?
Where are your therapy rooms located?
Do you offer therapy online?
How much does a session cost?
How many sessions do you think my family needs?
If you want to improve the emotional well-being of your family, you can find a family therapist with ThriveTalk. With a selection of therapists to choose from, it’s easy to get the support that your family needs to overcome their problems.
Now that you know more about this approach, you can decide if its the right therapy choice for you or not. The advantage of finding a family therapist is that your counseling sessions will take the relationships of your family into account during the healing process. You’ll also learn useful skills that can benefit every aspect of your life.