Family Therapy

Updated October 5, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

For many who are looking to start family therapy, it can be a bit hard. Is family therapy right for us? Which family therapist can help us figure out what's right? Are marriage and family therapists really going to help with the well-being of my family? Well, read on to find out what family therapy and structural family therapy can help with, and some of the best types of family therapists out there to work for you.

It Isn't Always Easy To Reach Out For Help When We Need It

What Is It?

Family therapy is used to help with strained relationships between families, whether it be a child that's causing issues or two parents that are having trouble. It can be tailored to the many different types of family that exist and can help provide family support to all of the family. The American Association for Marriage shows that divorce is quite common. Three fourths of divorces are requested by women. This shows that a relationship is a two-sided commitment, and the other half of a relationship must be dedicated to the marriage to help it succeed. Individual psychological problems, mental and emotional disorders, and problems with work productivity are just some of the things that clients may struggle with when looking for a marriage and family therapist. 

The goal of family therapy is to provide psychology services and education to help push forward conversations that are catalysts to help improve and strengthen the connections between loved ones and their family. It takes anywhere from 5-20 sessions to complete the treatment and depends on the severity of the problem. The important piece of this is not the number of people involved, but looking at the perspective and the framework.

Couples and family therapy are really good for mental health issues, and there are many different family therapists and mental health professionals out there that specialize in relationships. Below, we will talk about some of the different types, along with some of the different areas that they work with. There are a lot, but we will also tell below some of the different aspects of family therapy that may work for you.

Strategic Family Therapy

This is the type of therapy that's used to look at different stages. These usually include the following:

  • Social stage
  • Problem stage
  • Interactional stage
  • Goal setting
  • Task Setting Stage

These are all tackled, and it has evolved, but a therapist can help with some of the different problems that a parent may have with a child.

Structural Therapy

This is a type of family therapy that was developed by someone called Salvador Minuchin, a mental health professional in the field. The main part of this is to focus on five different aspects of the family, including the following:

  • The interactions with the people rather than an individual therapy
  • The "matrix of identity" that's put forward from the family
  • The family structure that comes from social interactions
  • The "well-functioning family" and how well the family is based on how they respond and develop the needs of the family
  • The position of the therapist to help the family outgrow the growth patterns and improve the entity

Structural therapy does work more on the structure of the family, and how to bring forth a much better framework that works better for everyone.

Systemic Therapy

This is a type of family therapy that essentially look on making sure that the system of the family is created. It isn't just a linear action though, but it looks at more of how the society and linguistics affect the family, and how to improve this.

Narrative

This type of therapy pushes the person to be more individual, and it uses this to minimize the problems within life. The idea of this is that people create personal stories that they use in life to identify their own identity, and also it shows how to navigate the tools in their lives. The point of this is to clear up, create, and support their own "person" to help guide them.

With the help of a mental health professional, this is great because sometimes, people have trouble being who they are, or maybe a child has issues in life because they're not following their narrative, and it helps with the conflict between narratives that can be a problem.

Transgenerational Therapy

This is a type of family therapy that's good if you have multiple generations of family in your home, or in your life. The main observations and analysis that is done here are looking at the family group, and how each of the different generations does affect one another, to grasp the main uses that are there. The family therapist may look at the struggles and stressful situations that may be present, such as behavioral problems in children or the demonstrated effectiveness of certain home rules. The concept of this is used to help figure out the bigger issues.

If there are issues that span multiple generations, and a therapist is needed to help the group work together and be a family, then this is great type of marriage and family therapy to try. Clients report great success when discussing generational trauma and showing up to validate one another in receiving treatment.

Communication Therapy

This is one type of family therapy that's used for families or parents that have an issue with communication. Communication problems are some of the biggest problems out there for families, but this takes communication issues regarding therapy and the lack of communication that may be there. The communication issues that may be there might be because of different cultural background or personal experiences.

For example, some children may have issues with their parents because of their own experiences, and maybe the parents have their own experiences that clash with the kids. Other situations may contribute to other communication issues, including secrecy, trauma, mental health issues, and other factors. If you as a parent or even children suffer from this, it can be a great way to help people. There are many different types of means to address communication, whether it's on an individual scale, or for those who are in an intimate relationship. Trained therapists can help with this, and then give the best strategies that can be used to help with ability, and to help focus on these skills.

Some of the different aspects of this that are usually used with family therapy by mental health professionals include the following:

  • Active listening
  • Opening lines of communication
  • Meditated communication

It Isn't Always Easy To Reach Out For Help When We Need It

Bowenian

This is a type of family therapy that teaches about triangulation and differentiation. Triangulation uses the tendency to divert anxiety or conflict by involving someone else in the family. For example, a dad complaining to his wife about his son. Differentiation is done with learning to become less reactive emotionally within the familial relationships. It can include writing to decrease emotional reactivity, and in turn, it increases the connectedness among those in your family. Many mental health professionals practice this form of therapy.

Why Find One?

Families are the main support system for people. While it may be blood relations, that may not always be the case. Family relationships are very important for good mental health, regardless of whether or not all of the family are present. A family dynamic is a type of social life, and it’s essential for healthy connections. It's also great for communication, and even lowering the conflicts in a person's life.

Some reasons to seek out a family therapist include:

  • A child having an issue within the school, disordered eating, or substance abuse
  • Unexpected or traumatic loss of someone within the family
  • Domestic violence
  • A major trauma that impacts everyone in the family, such as relocation, a natural disaster, or incarceration of someone in the family
  • Family adjustment, whether it be a new sibling, a grandparent in the home, or foster children
  • Divorce or licensing a new marriage
  • Parental conflict

How To Find One

If you've determined that this is the best way for you to handle the conflicts in the family, it's time for you to find the right mental health professionals. Always look for someone with a doctoral degree or higher who has clinical experience in family or couple relationship therapy. There are professional websites that offer the right service, but it involves four important questions that can be used to help treat situations:

  • This is my issue. How would you treat that?
  • Are you comfortable treating the immediate problem, or do you want to treat the deeper issue at hand? What is the procedure that's done?
  • What role does the therapist play in work itself

By asking these questions, you'll be able to help find the right mental health professional for you. There are a few, but if you sit around and look for a therapist that works for you, you'll be much happier with it. Family therapy does work, provided that you find the right one that works for you and the one that can ultimately help you as well.

Get Help Now!

If you feel like you need a family therapist, or you know that family therapy could help your entire household, then you should seek out a therapist that works for you. You should look for one that best fits what you're trying to go for, and from there, you'll be able to get the help that you need for yourself and your family. You owe it to yourself to do this. With the right help and advice from someone else, it can help put together a family. And even if there are a lot of problems, and a lot of other different issues within the family, sometimes seeing a therapist for this can ultimately really help you, and make a difference not just in your life, but your family's life too.

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