Though made up of individuals, families function as a system that has its own patterns and rules. Each individual plays a role, within the system, and every member will go to great lengths to maintain the balance. The familiarity of routines and patterns give the members a sense of identity and safety, even when there is dysfunction. For this reason, there is often resistance to change. In family therapy, the goal is to create conditions in which the family is able to shift, allowing for the change to occur. Because dynamics between members are different, family therapy often involves meeting with members individually, or in different configurations that make up the various subsystems of the family. It may be helpful to spend periods of time understanding the relationship between one individual and their parents, or examining the ways in which siblings communicate with one another. In fact, it may be the case that meeting with the parents, alone, is helpful in understanding the family. Because these different configurations resemble other modalities, it is important to draw a distinction between family therapy and individual therapy, or couples counseling. One of the values of family therapy is to hear each member’s perspective and ideas. Through this type of session work, families can improve boundaries and communication, help members feel better understood, and become better connected.
Family Therapy is used for:
Blended family issues, being adoptive parents, or being an adopted child, single parent family issues, the effect of a divorce, death in a family, estrangement, power struggles between parents and children, scapegoating, abuse, neglect, and alcoholism or chemical dependence