Family therapy is one of the most common forms of mental health treatment. However, there are still some mystery surrounding this type of therapy—what it entails, how it impacts individuals and families, and whether or not it’s effective.
- Families Matter: There is no finding as well-replicated in psychological research as the importance of the family on the lives of individuals with in the family. Simply put, individuals influence families, and vice versa.
- Families Provide Context: When families function well, family relationships can be immensely satisfying. However, when families do not function well, family relationships can be distressingly painful. A central tenant of family therapy is the notion that an individual’s problems occur within the broader context of the family—the family systems perspective.
- Family Therapy Doesn’t Always Mean Treating Everyone at the Same Time: While the family is the primary focus of treatment during family therapy, therapists may conduct individual sessions with adolescents, sessions with parents alone, or even sessions with concerned others such as peers, school personnel or the police.
- Family Therapy Is Effective: More than 40 years of research on the efficacy of family therapy supports this conclusion. There is evidence for the effectiveness of family therapy for specific problems such as adolescent drug use, schizophrenia and anorexia nervosa.
- The Right Family Therapist Makes All the Difference: Balancing the needs of multiple family members while working in the interest of the family as a whole can be quite challenging. Make sure your therapist has specific training in family therapy, and remember that your therapist must not just be competent—he or she must be comfortable for you to work with.
Family therapy is based on the idea that people’s psychological problems and issues cannot be understood or treated in isolation from their families. The right family therapist can help families make the changes they need to heal and thrive.
Click here to read Dr. Chambers’ full Clinical Science Insight white paper, “Demystifying Family Therapy.”
Click here to read Dr. LeBow’s full Clinical Science Insight white paper, “What does research have to say about families and psychotherapy?”
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