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Family Therapy What Is It?

Family therapy brings parents, siblings and extended family members such as aunts, uncles and grandparents into the treatment process. The family system has its own structure and patterns of communication, which may be defined by parenting style, personalities and other influences.

Every individual is, in part, a product of the environment they grew up in. Family plays an important role in our emotional, physical and spiritual development since each individual in the family system impacts and is impacted by the others. For example, one person’s illness can change the lives and interactions of all the other family members.

Family therapy may be helpful to:

  • Resolve a specific issue
  • Prepare the family for a major life change such as a divorce or remarriage
  • Address the role that family plays in an individual’s life

Depending on the unique needs and goals of the family, different combinations of family members may participate in each therapy session. The family therapist may give family members assignments to begin addressing some of the challenges identified during therapy.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF FAMILY THERAPY?

Evaluating issues in family therapy can help an individual:

  • Understand how their family functions
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses within the family system
  • Set goals and develop strategies to resolve challenges
  • Improve communication skills
  • Make the entire family stronger

Family therapy is often used in concert with other types of mental health treatment, particularly if one or more family members would benefit from specialized treatment for addictions, eating disorders or other illnesses. Some mental health programs offer a family therapy component while a loved one is in treatment and also encourage each family member to pursue individual therapy.

WHAT CONDITIONS/DISORDERS DOES FAMILY THERAPY TREAT?

Anyone seeking healthier, closer family relationships can benefit from family therapy. Family therapy is used to treat a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Marital problems
  • Parent-child conflict
  • Problems between siblings
  • The effects of illness on the family

Studies show that family therapy is particularly important for adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse, eating disorders, and other emotional and behavioral issues. When the whole family grows, each individual member is better off.