Family Therapy

Deciding to Treat Family Dysfunction

One of the more popular types of psychotherapy is family systems therapy, in which a family (in some, a couple) are treated by a trained psychiatry or sociology professional for problems in their relationships. Like marriage counseling, family therapy has a very wide range of treatment options, and no two professionals use the same methods to build their patients’ relationships.

Family therapy can be a very effective way to treat issues like:

  • General family dysfunction
  • Relationship issues
  • Jealousy issues among siblings
  • Issues stemming from a divorce, move, or other major life event

Family therapy can be very helpful for you if you’ve experienced these issues or any other problems stemming from your relationship with other members of your family. It’s a worthy consideration in many circumstances and potentially one of the most helpful general fields of therapy for couples and families who need help.

Is Family Systems Therapy Right for You?

Many patients try to decide whether family therapy is an appropriate option for a number of months before seeking professional help. In general, family therapy is healthy and helpful and an ideal solution for families. It fosters good communication skills in a clinical yet casual setting, giving members of a family the tools they need to successfully resolve their own problems.

Families should discuss family therapy with one another before looking for a therapist. It’s also important to listen to your therapist’s advice and to trust him or her when deciding whether treatment is necessary. Only a licensed family therapist can help you decide whether therapy would be helpful and to what extent, so be ready to speak to a professional.

Family Therapy: Not Just a Couch

Many people associate family therapy with the clinical feel of a psychiatrist’s couch. However, most modern family therapists approach their patients in an environment that fosters communication. Treatment is also varied, and it’s rarely a simple question and answer session. Family systems therapy experts treat their patients to address one another comfortably and educate family members throughout the sessions.

Some family therapists recommend ongoing treatment, particularly when severe issues are present in a family. However, in some cases, families will only receive treatment for a week to several months before family therapy sessions end entirely.

What Family Therapists Should Offer Their Patients

A good family therapist is a trained professional who is qualified to work in the field. It’s generally expected that a family therapist should have one or several graduate and postgraduate degrees in psychology or sociology. As family therapy can take a lot of time and may require great differentiation in approach from one patient to the next, it’s also important to locate a family therapist with experience. If you’re looking for a knowledgeable and capable family therapist, check to make sure that he or she has a long list of previous clients.

Most family therapists will not allow you to contact their previous patients for a reference, as this violates doctor-patient confidentiality, but many will have testimonial letters from their patients that you can view. Many will also be members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), which certifies professionals who offer these services.

Family therapy can be a great form of treatment, and many families find their lives completely transformed by reputable and experienced family therapists. Consider this option if your family’s relationship issues have gradually worsened over time or if a major life event would lead you to anticipate relationship issues within your family.


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