Family therapy is a type of counseling that can help family members improve communication, resolve conflict, and deepen family connections. Family therapy might include all family members, or just those who are able or willing to participate. Family therapy is helpful for a variety of circumstances, such as grief or loss, conflict between parent and child, and coping with a family member’s mental illness or substance abuse, to name a few.
A family is broadly defined as a group of people in which there exists supportive, long-term roles and relationships. Those within the family group may or may not be biologically related. Family includes traditional families, adoptive families, foster families, single-parent and step-parent families, and partners.
Many individual factors and family dynamics can interfere with the development of healthy family relationships and interactions. Family therapy is a valuable resource for making positive changes in the family dynamic. Family therapy is often initiated due to issues with one family member. However, the focus of family therapy typically moves away from the individual and toward what goes on between the members of the system. Family therapy aims to improve communication, recognize triggers, challenge misperceptions/assumptions, create healthier interactions, and deepen connections amongst its members. Family therapy helps provide skills for coping with challenging situations more effectively.
There are several therapeutic styles that adapt well to family work and all generally focus on shifting patterns within the family system that create unhealthy or dysfunctional interactions.