Family therapy is based on the belief that the family is a unique social system with its own structure and patterns of communication. These patterns are determined by many factors, including the parents’ beliefs and values, the personalities of all family members, and the influence of the extended family (grandparents, aunts, and uncles). As a result of these variables, each family develops its own unique personality, which is powerful and affects all of its members. The primary goal of family therapy is to help family members find healthy ways to improve communication and resolve conflict. For best results, all family members need to work together with the therapist toward common goals.
Family therapy can:
- Teach family members about how families function in general and, in particular, how their own functions.
- Help the family focus less on the member who has been identified as ill and focus more on the family as a whole.
- Assist in identifying conflicts and anxieties and helps the family develop strategies to resolve them.
- Strengthen all family members so they can work on their problems together.
- Teach ways to handle conflicts and changes within the family differently. Sometimes the way family members handle problems makes them more likely to develop symptoms.
Family therapy may be the primary focus of treatment, or it could be used as a supplement to individual therapy.