What is Family Therapy?
Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is designed to reduce the levels of conflict and distress that may be experienced between family members. It aims to improve the interactions between the family members that are affected by the issue. If it is feasible, all of the family members that are impacted by the concern will be brought into one room.
Your therapist would explore the views and relationships between family members to understand the issues that you may be having. In doing so, it can help you and members of your family to communicate better with one another and help to resolve the conflict or issues that you are facing.
The structure of the therapy session is very much dependent on who is in the family along with the rules, values, and language used by the family. Furthermore, cultural factors and multigenerational patterns that influence your family may also be discussed for your therapist to gain insight into your family structure. By understanding this, your therapist can inform their approach to how they explore and address the issues that you and your family have presented.
Family therapy slightly differs from individual therapy in that the length of the sessions is slightly longer. The length of the sessions can range from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on how many members of your family have come and what needs to be discussed in the sessions themselves. The sessions take place once every 2 to 3 weeks and can last from a few meetings to over a year. Again this is dependent on how much time you feel is needed for your family to resolve the issue(s) that brought you to family therapy.
Types of Family Therapy:
Family Systems Therapy – This approach targets helping individuals employ the strengths and positivity of their current relationships to support them in overcoming their mental health problems. This is because this form of psychotherapy focuses on the family as a whole - where an individual’s behaviour must be considered from the context of the family. This delves from the idea that individuals are influenced by their family, just the same as their family being influenced by them.
Functional Family Therapy – This approach is an intervention designed mainly for youths within families who have faced adversity at a young age, for their mental health, conflicts at school, and for related trauma. This is a short-term intervention, where your Psychologist would work together with the parent’s/guardians of the children, as well as other significant people who are important to the child taking therapy. The first step within this intervention is to meet with the child’s family and understand how everyone functions with each other. The next few sessions continue with the family and the Psychologist introducing and implementing changes within the family system to help overcome these issues. These suggestions often include changing the way things are carried around different members of the family, or changing the way members of the family are communicating with each other. Over the last few sessions, your psychologist would support you and your family to implement these changes in a variety of situations. This is to help induce positive change and therefore develop a better quality of mental health.
Narrative Family Therapy – This form of therapy helps individuals realise their roles within each of their relationships through narrating their story to the psychologist/therapist. This can in turn help you understand your behaviours, experiences you’ve encountered, and your roles with each event of their story. Also, through narrating your story, the psychologist/therapist can support you by identifying any underlying issues within the narration. This type of intervention can help with anxiety, attachment issues, depression, eating disorders, ADHD, grief, and PTSD.
Psychoeducation – This approach includes teaching members of the family about the variety of features and information regarding mental health and treatments. This is usually utilised when a family member has been diagnosed with a mental health condition. Through educating the family of the ins and outs regarding that mental health condition (i.e., the consequences, advice, and how to support that member) that individual’s support system can then help in times of need and react more effectively to their needs, thus promoting positive mental health.
What can Family Therapy help with:
Several reasons may require you to attend family therapy. Some of the more common reasons are:
1. Traumatic event or change
2. Issues with school, substance abuse or eating disorders
3. Chronic illness of a family member
4. Divorce/Parental conflict
5. Adjustment to a new family member
Traumatic event or change:
Major traumatic events or changes that have impacted the whole family can often be a trigger for distress within a family or between family members. This could be things such as a natural disaster, moving cities/homes, etc. Therefore, attending these sessions may help you to talk about the shared traumas or the changes that you have all been through and help to make the transition easier. These sessions can help you to express your thoughts and emotions about the traumatic event or change in a safe and neutral setting with a qualified professional.
Difficulty with school, substance abuse, or eating disorders:
If your child is having difficulties with school, substance abuse, or eating disorders, this may be a reason why you decide to attend family therapy. This can be hardships that they are experiencing at their current school or if they recently changed schools, difficulties that they may be having adjusting to their surroundings. This can help your child to talk about how they feel and provide their point of view. It also can help to provide a setting for you and your partner to discuss with your child and come to a solution that all parties think would help. Also, you may choose to come to family therapy if you notice that your child has difficulties around substance abuse or has developed an eating disorder. Often talking about these topics at home can cause arguments between members of the family, so having a neutral environment that is supervised by a registered therapist can often be helpful to ensure that everyone has a chance to say what they want and if necessary, come up with a solution to the problem.
Chronic illness of a family member:
If you are a family that has one member with a serious physical or mental illness, family therapy can act as a medium through which you can become educated about their illness. It can also provide you with a setting in which the member with the illness can talk about how they feel and what they need from each of their family members. If it is a terminal illness in which they don’t have long left to live, family therapy may help the whole family come to terms with what is going to happen and prepare for the eventuality.
Often when there is a conflict between parents or a divorce that has recently happened, the children or adolescents in the family may have trouble understanding what has happened or adjusting to the recent changes. Therefore this can negatively impact them as they may not know how to express their feelings. If you are a family who has recently gone through parental conflict, family therapy can often help you and your partner understand each other and maybe resolve your issues, but it can also help your children or other family members affected, to express their views and how your conflict has impacted them. If you have been through a divorce, family therapy can help provide you and your ex-partner with a platform to explain to your child(ren) why you have decided to end the relationship. It may also provide your child(ren) with a safe place to work through their feelings, and come to terms with the divorce.
Adjustment to a new family member:
For children and adolescents, family therapy may be used when they need to adjust to a new family member in the house. This could be the birth of a new sibling, a grandparent moving in or, if you have been through a divorce, a new step-parent (and their family if they have children) joining the family. In these cases, family therapy can provide the space for your child to adjust to the new changes and give the (new) family members that have moved in to get to know your child(ren). Getting to know the child and answering your child’s questions can often be quite helpful if a new step-parent is joining the family.
Goals of Family Therapy:
Family therapy can be helpful to all family members, regardless of your age, for many different reasons. For most families, the main goal is to increase the levels of good communication, and by doing so, reduce the levels of conflict experienced. For example, family therapy can help you and your family members develop and maintain healthy boundaries between family members. This can be between parent(s) and child(ren), grandparents and children, or parents and their parents. In turn, this may then help to better the communication between your family members.
Better communication can also be achieved through exploring your family structure and dynamics. This will help to provide you with an insight into what influences your family structure and the way that things are done. By having this insight and understanding the family dynamics, you and your family members may be more understanding of one another and therefore understand why you may have responded or acted in a certain way toward each other. This could help to resolve the issue that you came to the session with, and in doing so, provide you with a level of understanding to keep in mind if/when another conflict arises.
Overall, it may help to reduce the conflict that may arise in your family by enabling you to understand each other better and providing you with the tools that you may need to resolve conflicts before they get out of hand.
Is it Effective?
Family therapy has been shown to help individuals and their family members to understand one another better. It also provides skills to cope when faced with a challenging situation in a better way. There is evidence to show that family therapy may help to increase the levels of cohesion seen within a family (Jiménez García et al.). According to the Association for Family Therapy (AFT), family therapy is effective in individuals ranging from children under the age of 5 to older adults. It has also been found to be effective when used in the treatment of adults and children with varying degrees of physical and mental health issues such as eating disorders in children and alcoholism in adults. Therefore, it has a relatively large evidence base to show that it can be effective in most scenarios and with most family structures. To read more about the benefits of Family Therapy, click here.
Factors to Consider:
There are a few things to consider when booking a family therapy session. One of the main things is that talking and thinking about the emotional difficulties that you have faced as a family can be tough. As a result, it may be difficult for you or your family to talk about it. Furthermore, some people can feel worse before they feel better, so if that’s the case, it may be a matter of providing yourself with the time and space to talk or think about the issue at hand.
Another thing to consider is that some family members may not want to attend, or if they do they may not want to engage in the sessions. In this case, your therapist may step in to support you and your family to overcome this.
How to Book a Session?
Whatever your situation, if you feel the need to attend family therapy, coming sooner rather than later is the best way forward. This would enable you to attend therapy with all the family members that are affected, to make lasting changes in the family structure and understanding between members.
To enquire about a family therapy session, you can visit the website (www.themindremedy.co.uk) and book a free 15-minute chat with a registered Psychologist, to talk and ask about anything you want to know about family therapy and how to book. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or get in touch through call, text, or WhatsApp message at 07931903310.
You can contact The Mind Remedy clinic today on the number 07931903310 or book a free 15-minute consultation through our website to find out the next step for your family.
Fee: From £200 per session