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
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.
From a therapist’s standpoint, treating the family together lets her choose the best approach possible.1
2. Reducing Risk Factors
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
3. Finding New Coping Strategies
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.
4. Encouraging Communication
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
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
|↑1, ↑3, ↑4, ↑6, ↑9||Development Services Group, Inc. 2014. “Family therapy.” Literature Review. Washington, DC.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.|
|↑2||Development Services Group, Inc. 2015. “Risk Factors for Delinquency.” Literature review. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.|
|↑5||Josephson, Allan M. “From Family Therapy to Family Intervention.” Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America 24, no. 3 (2015): 457-470.|
|↑7||Breunlin, Douglas C., and Elizabeth Jacobsen. “Putting the “family” back into family therapy.” Family process 53, no. 3 (2014): 462-475.|
|↑8||Rienecke, Renee D., Erin C. Accurso, James Lock, and Daniel Le Grange. “Expressed emotion, family functioning, and treatment outcome for adolescents with anorexia nervosa.” European Eating Disorders Review 24, no. 1 (2016): 43-51.|
|↑10||Dakof, Gayle A., Craig E. Henderson, Cynthia L. Rowe, Maya Boustani, Paul E. Greenbaum, Wei Wang, Samuel Hawes, Clarisa Linares, and Howard A. Liddle. “A randomized clinical trial of family therapy in juvenile drug court.” Journal of family psychology 29, no. 2 (2015): 232.|