The aim of family therapy is to improve relationships between family members. The fundamental goal is to help family members find ways to help each other, whether the problem is believed to be a personal or a family issue. The role of the therapist is to explore the relationships between different family members to better understand them and help all members of the family to get a better understanding of one another, improve communication and resolve conflict.
Family therapy can also be known as systemic family therapy because it looks at the family as a ‘system’ and what is and isn’t working within the system so that the family and therapist can work as a team to find solutions to make relationships easier.
Some of the issue’s family therapy might address include:
- Parenting difficulties such as how a parent might offer the best parenting model to their child;
- Managing divorce and separation;
- Loss and bereavement;
- Mental health difficulties such as eating disorders, substance misuse or personality disorders within a family;
- Parental alienation and/or Family Court proceedings;
- Domestic abuse within families;
- Repetitive arguing;
- Child and adolescent behaviour such as challenging behaviour.
Family therapy might be offered to whole families and this can include all members that might be linked to the challenges a family is facing including grandparents, parents, children, stepparents and family united through marriage or partnerships such as mothers and fathers-in law. It might require all members of the family to be present at the same time or for some members to be present at different times. Every individual family’s needs will be different and are assessed at the start of therapy so that a plan can be suggested by the therapist which is reviewed on an ongoing basis as the therapy transpires.
Online Family Therapy
In many cases family therapy can be effectively offered online using platforms such as Zoom where family members can either access an online session together from the same screen, or individually from their own screens. Sometimes online therapy can be especially effective when working with families that live in different places, or who find it difficult to manage the logistics of coming together at the same time and place for every session.