All families have difficulties and conflict but there are times when this can feel overwhelming and negative patterns of communication develop, leading to further conflict and deteriorating relationships. Family therapy, also known as family and systemic psychotherapy, recognises and builds on the strengths and resources of the family. It seeks to be non-blaming and enables all family members to share their story and listen to others. Family therapy helps family members to work together to make changes within the family and to manage conflict in a more healthy way.
Please note the word family is used in the context of a group of people who play supportive roles in each other lives, you do not have to be related or live together to be able to find help within this model of therapy. This is why family therapy can be called systemic therapy as it can refer to systems, groups or organisations of people who are not related. Family therapists are mindful of this, so modify their approach to fit with all cultures, ages and family units.
There are a number of reasons why families seek family therapy. Below are some of the common issues that family therapists support families with:
Family therapists create a safe and open space for the family to express their feelings and discuss their experiences. Families are encouraged to listen to each other and try to empathise with what other members are saying. The family therapist is there to guide these conversations. When challenges or conflicts emerge the family therapist is there to mediate the discussion, to support members when they struggle to express themselves and provide insight to help family members understand one another.
The family therapy process is a collaborative one. Families work together alongside the therapist to deal with their issues and strengthen the relationships within the family. It essential that each individual is heard, respected and their hopes and goals are acknowledged. Family therapy aims to bring families closer together to enable them to communicate with one another effectively and support each other through any future difficulties.
If you are concerned about mental health issues within your family you can raise this with your GP and explore your options for support via NHS services.
Select Psychology also offers family therapy and child psychology to help support you through any family issues you are dealing with currently. We are a private mental health service with an efficient service and no waiting lists.
This is how therapy would work:
Step 1 – Get in touch: The first step is recognising you have an issue and seeking help – BOOK A FREE TELEPHONE CONSULTATION and start the process by providing a space and time to share your needs with us.
Step 2 – Telephone Consultation: You will be heard and understood through a confidential phone conversation. Often called the ‘triage’ this is where you can share more about your needs, and we can advise on therapy pathways and provide initial guidance where possible.
Step 3 – Appointment Offer: We will match your needs with the best fit practitioner for your therapy pathway and offer you an appointment within two weeks.
Step 4 – Initial Assessment: Before you begin a course of therapy, your therapist will need to conduct an assessment in order agree a course of therapy with you that will best help you and address your goals. This is still part of the therapeutic process and will provide you with a better understanding of your difficulties and how you may start to approach them.
Step 5 – Your Therapy: Following on from your assessment, you will move onto therapy. Appointments are 50 minutes – these can be anything from weekly to monthly, depending on your individual circumstances. The number of sessions required to feel better will depend on your needs and therapy plan, this can range between 8-16 sessions, but in general, more time is needed to address more complex issues.
Step 6 – Feeling Better: As you start to improve, you can agree on changes to the frequency of sessions as required. Ultimately, there will be a time when both you and your therapist agree that you no longer need to continue in active therapy.
1. Does family therapy really work?
With the right therapist and the motivation to work through issues as a family, family therapy can be a great way to improve communication and enhance relationships.
2. What are the most common problems within a family?
Some common issues families may face are pressure at work or school; unemployment and financial problems; illness or disability of a family member; the death of a family member; drug, alcohol or gambling addiction, and domestic violence. However, due to the unique nature of every family and the individuals within them, they will all respond differently to any problem. There is nothing wrong with seeking support from a family therapist to help work through any issues or conflicts that may emerge,
4. Can people attend family therapy on their own?
Yes. You can see a family therapist one to one. In some cases a mixture of sessions are appropriate some with the whole family present, some with a few members and others one to one. This can be useful to help a family therapist understand family dynamics better.
5. Is family therapy necessary if only one member of the family is struggling with an issue?
It can come as a shock to families when one of the members is dealing with a serious problem. Family therapy can help families learn about the issue, where it may have stemmed from and develop ways to support the individual. This can be a challenging process especially when other members believe they are at fault for the issue. It is important to note that the family therapist is not there to judge or blame other members but to assist families through these difficulties.
6. How do I know if a family therapist is right for me?
Select Psychology can provide guidance and information to support your decision to choose a therapist, ultimately, the only way to find out is to attend sessions and see. Sometimes families are able to build rapport with the therapist and establish a stable working relationship. However, this is not always the case, due to no fault with the family or the therapist. If this does happen it is essential to have a discussion so a way forward can be agreed upon.
To learn more about family therapy and systemic therapy visit The Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice