Family Therapy: Types and Techniques

Family therapy helps families improve communication and resolve any issues that may be causing stress within the unit.

Table of Contents

What is Family Therapy?

Family therapy works on improving relationships within the family unit while addressing any specific issues as well, such as communication problems or learning how to help a family member if they’re struggling with a mental health or substance abuse disorder.1
During therapy sessions, the family members explore behavior patterns that contribute to conflict and actively work on expressing their thoughts and feelings in a positive and more uplifting way. They also work on identifying each other’s strengths.2

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What is the Goal of Family Therapy?

The specific goals of family counseling are usually agreed upon by the family and the therapist. There might be many reasons why a family needs to utilize family counseling, such as someone struggling with a mental health disorder and not knowing how to provide support, or a death in the family that caused difficulties due to grief.
No matter the reason, reaching out to a family therapist if your family unit is struggling is a great idea to help improve relationships and communication.

Types of Family Counseling

There are several different types of family counseling that therapists can utilize to address the complex issues in family relationships. These types of therapy will be detailed below..

Family Systems Therapy

Developed by Murray Bowen in the 1950s, family systems therapy aims to help individuals address and resolve their problems within the family unit. This type of therapy proposes that the family unit is where the issues originated. Family members work to understand how each other’s actions can affect the family unit as a whole.
The idea is that “what happens to one member of a family, happens to everyone in the family.” 3

Structural (Strategic) Therapy (SFT)

Structural therapy has become one of the most dominant forms of family counseling. It looks at the structure and dysfunctional relationships of the family while aiming to improve communication in relationships by addressing how the family relates to one another.4

Narrative Therapy

This therapy encourages each individual to tell their own story while also understanding how those stories change and impact how they relate to other people. This type of therapy can help family members increase objectivity.5

Transgenerational Therapy

In this therapy, the therapist focuses on the interactions across generations and how the family has responded to crises. Understanding how the family has responded to situations across generations can help provide insight into current struggles and potentially predict future difficulties.6

Psychoeducation

Psychoeducation can help members understand mental health, medication, and potential treatment options. This helps to gain knowledge to provide a safe and supportive environment.

Who Would Benefit Most From Family Therapy?

There are many reasons why people seek family counseling. Some reasons that family units might need this type of therapy include:
  • Behavioral problems
  • Communication issues
  • Substance abuse or addiction 
  • A family member’s mental illness
  • Financial problems
  • Difficulties between siblings
  • Death of a loved one
  • Issues with extended family members
  • Infidelity
  • Separation or divorce

Family Therapy Techniques and Approaches

The techniques and approaches utilized in family therapy are usually determined by the therapist, the issues presented in therapy, and the needs of the family. Some of the techniques and approaches may include:
  • Structural:Help the family establish healthy boundaries and focus on interactions. The family therapist can observe how the family interacts in real life. The goal is to work towards routines that benefit everyone in the family.7
  • Systemic:Focuses on the whole family as one unit and how each individual person’s behaviors influence the entire family. The techniques focus on improving the strength and stability of the family unit.8
  • Psychodynamic: Focuses on how each individual member of the family interprets and responds to problems. The therapist works on improving how each family member responds to these problems to react more effectively.
  • Strategic: This type of therapy is designed to help families with children or adolescents experiencing behavioral issues. This approach uses techniques to replicate interactions within the family to resolve problems and create behavioral change.9

Benefits of Family Counseling

The main focus of family therapy is to assist families to improve communication. But there are many other benefits to family counseling, including:
  • Building stronger relationships
  • Improving interactions and working on moving away from dysfunctional ones
  • Helping families have honest and open discussions of thoughts and feelings
  • Developing and maintaining healthy boundaries
  • Increasing self-esteem and confidence
  • Establishing a safe and supportive system

Getting Started with Profound

Getting started with family therapy is the first step to making positive changes within the family. While this type of counseling is usually short-term, it may take a year or more depending on the needs of the family. Though this form of therapy usually involves the family unit, it may also focus on the individuals that are willing to take part in treatment.

What to Expect

First, the family will meet with a therapist as a whole to discuss the reasons for coming to therapy. Each member of the family will be asked about their views of the problem, when the issues started, and how problems have been managed up to that point.
Then, the therapist will make a treatment plan for the family to work towards the goals the family has for the therapy. This usually involves improving communication and not blaming any individual for family issues.

How to Find the Right Therapist

Finding the right therapist is important in all therapy. To find a therapist that is right for the family, you can:
  • Contact a primary healthcare provider for referrals
  • Contact your health insurance company
  • Ask a trusted friend for recommendations
  • Check online directories for family therapists with experience and qualifications

How Profound Can Help

Profound Treatment is a supportive addiction treatment center focusing on evidence-based and individualized care. Our holistic approach addresses the whole person in a safe and supportive environment. We offer family counseling to help rebuild relationships and provide support.
For more information about our comprehensive treatment programs and family therapy, contact us today.
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phone number (310) 929-9546