Family therapy aims to provide a safe environment for families, couples and those in close relationships to discuss issues, problems or crises. These crises include:
- Helping cope with and support family members with serious mental and/or physical illness/disability
- Alcohol and drug issues
- Traumatic events or abuse including sexual and physical abuse, and neglect
- Interfamily conflict or issues with relating to each other
- Same sex parenting
- Family therapy can also help with major life transitions including:
- Child and adolescent difficulties including school related issues, anxiety, sibling conflict and developmental issues
- Coping with bereavement and other major life adjustments
What is Family Therapy?
Family therapy is also known as couple and family therapy, marriage and family therapy, and family systems therapy. It is a branch of psychotherapy, working with families and couples nurture change and development. Family therapy seeks to change systems of interactions between family members, with the focus on relationships being an important factor of psychological health. The aim to solve problems rather than identifying a single cause. This is because focusing on a single cause can cause the singling out of a family member which then leads to blaming. This is not helpful in resolving relationship issues. Instead, therapy focuses on creating enduring positive differences.
Therapy will begin with a discussion regarding what every family member hopes to get out of the session. The family therapist will then help prioritise issues and will guide the session to ensure discussion remains on track.
During family therapy, every family member will have the chance to have their say regarding the issues at hand. Where appropriate the therapist will share ideas about what might help for each family member to reach their goal.
At the end of the session the therapist will ask what the family would like to do next and arrange further sessions. They will also organise to follow up with each family member individually by phone.
Family therapy sessions last for between 60-90 minutes and families tend to need 1-6, or more, sessions spaced over several months. Sessions can be arranged fortnightly or monthly.
Who Should Attend Family Therapy?
Regardless of the origin of the problem, or problems, at hand, all relevant family members should attend family therapy sessions, and at Creative Healing we encourage the inclusion of children in appropriate sessions. Individual sessions may also be offered to family members to address individual issues and concerns. Sessions between specific family members may also be arranged. Significant others may also attend sessions where appropriate. These significant others include support workers and extended family.
At Creative Healing we respect a family member’s right to not attend a counselling session. In the case of a family member refusing to attend therapy, we will discuss the issue with the remaining family members in an effort to understand the missing member’s point of view. Those who refuse to attend a session will be welcome to future sessions if appropriate and it is physically and psychologically safe for all involved if this family member attends. Family situations are assessed prior to appointments to ensure that no family members are placed in unsafe situations.
What Does Family Therapy Do?
When one member of a family is experiencing difficulties it does affect the entire family. Family therapy gives everyone strategies to cope with the crisis or difficulty and methods to support the suffering individual. Support from family plays an important role in an individual’s recovery.
Family therapy encourages members of the family to contribute to solutions and provides them with tools to build a stronger and more positive relationships. Some of these tools include:
- The capacity to identify and resource coping strategies that make a difference for the family
- Mindfully notice habitual and unhelpful relational interactional patterns in which members can become stuck
- A mindful space for reflection and realistic action
In a family therapy session you will focus on:
- What can be learned about family beliefs
- Roles, rules, culture and patterns that have developed over time and generations
- Coping strategies for the challenges of meeting the tasks of family life
- Coping strategies for major life transitions including:
- Incorporating children
- Adjusting to adolescence
- Transitioning to adulthood
- Adjusting to retirement
- Managing stresses on family life including:
- Mental and physical illness
- Utilise supports, resources and hidden strengths that exist in and around the family
If you feel your family would benefit from Family Therapy, please contact Creative Healing’s experienced counsellors today.