What Is Family Therapy And Who Benefits From It?

Family is everything. You’re linked by blood, and it doesn’t get any closer than that. Family also plays a huge part in mental, emotional, social, and even physical health. For children, it sets the tone for the rest of their life.

If a family is struggling with problems as a unit, Whole Family Therapy (WFT) is helpful. But if only a single member has an issue, Relational Family Therapy (RFT) is used. This approach focuses on the individual’s problems while getting the entire family involved. Familial support is the main goal.

Within these forms of family therapy, there are detailed approaches and methods. But if you’re wondering what is included in family therapy, here are the basics.

1. Identifying Problems

Family Therapy Helps Identify The Underlying Problems

In order to fix a problem, you need to know what it is. Family therapy helps each person understand the issue at hand. Some might not realize that there is a problem, but therapy helps bring it to light.


importantly, family therapy will help everyone understand how the others feel. The therapist encourages discussions that might not have happened otherwise.

From a therapist’s standpoint, treating the family together lets her choose the best approach possible.1

2. Reducing Risk Factors

Behavioral And Attitudinal Risk Factors Can Be Reduced By Family Therapy

Once the problems are recognized, therapy looks at risk factors. They can be environmental or fueled by individual members. Other times, risk factors might have to do with dynamics and relationships.

Examples include poverty level, peer groups, attitudes, and values. Some risk factors, like biological dispositions and personal history, can’t be changed. Yet, the goal of family therapy is to look at the risks and learn how to work with them.2

The therapy may also identify factors that impact mental

health. Behaviors, attitudes, and values matter.3

3. Finding New Coping Strategies

Family Therapist Gives Strategies To Solve Problems

When risk factors are identified, a therapist works to reduce them in regards to the main problem.

Family therapy presents new ways to deal. This can be tricky, since everyone has their own set way of coping. But this is exactly what therapist strives to change.

Strategies are meant to reframe and restructure those patterns.4 And in order for the family to change, change is needed from every single member.5

4. Encouraging Communication

 Communication Helps Improve Family Bonding

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Communication is a big part of those new coping techniques. The therapist teaches each member how to develop communication, so that a conflict can be resolved.

From here, members can put these new skills to work by setting goals and resolutions. Family bonding activities and services will also come in handy.6

Who Benefits From Family Therapy?

1. Eating Disorder Patients

Family therapy is one of the most effective treatments for patients with eating disorders (ED).7

It zeros in on paternal criticism and maternal hostility, two factors that are linked to ED development. Otherwise, disregarding these factors will prevent successful ED recovery.8

2. At-Risk Youth

For children, home life is the first source of social influence. It’s also

important for adolescents and young adults. Plus, delinquent behaviors are more likely if a child doesn’t have a strong bond with family.9

When treatment involves everyone, the results are better. For instance, compared to non-family therapy, family therapy creates greater success in juvenile drug court.10

Of course, family therapy isn’t limited to youth. An at-risk person of any age will benefit from family therapy.

3. Spouses With Marital Problems

If a couple wants to take marriage therapy to the next level, family therapy can be used. After all, a rocky marriage can affect everyone. This is also a great way to provide support from other members.

Like individual therapy, family therapy will be different for everyone. Being honest with your therapist will help her choose

the best approach possible. With patience and time, this will pave the way for a healthy family.