Couples and families can find themselves in the middle of some very tough situations. This includes divorce, an upcoming second marriage, addiction problems for one of its members, or having to deal with a death in the family.
While individual therapy might help individual members of the family cope with their unexpected circumstances, having more members of the family come together to work on themselves in marriage and family therapy can be a huge advantage when facing difficult circumstances. Here are some things you need to know about marriage and family therapy.
What Is Family Therapy?
Family therapy is distinguished from individual therapy in more ways than just the obvious. Family therapy runs off the idea that individual problems must be addressed within the framework of interpersonal relationships, in this case those of a couple or a family.
Know that family therapy often focuses on shifting the interpersonal dynamics between members of that couple or family. It has also become more inclusive in recent years, with the definition of family being expanded to include anyone who is involved in constant or consistent interactions within a unit. The average number of family therapy appointments is 12, with less than 15% of families attending more than 50 sessions.
Types of Family Therapy
One of the most common and famous types of family therapy is marriage or couples therapy. Couples therapy sees two people in an intimate relationship come together to try to solve a problem they are experiencing within their relationship.
Some common issues that lead to a couple considering this type of therapy include marital problems, substance abuse, domestic violence, difficulty conceiving a child, and problems with adolescent behavior.
Systemic Family Therapy, on the other hand, focuses on the entire family as a unit and how each part of that unit fits into the whole. It is often paired with individual and couples therapy, allowing the individuals involved to have time to focus both on their development as individuals and on their development as a family unit.
Common issues that lead to a family seeking Systemic Family Therapy include divorce, second marriages, a death in the family, and other issues that inevitably affect all members of the family unit. Sometimes the therapist will request that only certain members come in for certain sessions in order to focus on issues that affect their particular interpersonal relationship.
Meeting With a Family Therapist
Family counseling is provided by licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT), who specialize in this type of individualized group therapy. Other mental health professionals such as professional counselors, social workers, and psychologists may have received formal training in family therapy approaches and often incorporate those principles into their own work.
Family therapy is solution-focused and generally short-term, with as few as 9 sessions required on average. Meetings are often held once per week and typically last for 50 minutes.
While the concept of family therapy may be daunting at first, it can be incredibly useful.
The number of family members who attend each session may vary, depending on therapy goals, and often a therapist will offer individual sessions to supplement the family sessions. Family counseling is conducted in a variety of settings including family counseling services, community agencies, and residential treatment centers.
While the concept of family therapy may be daunting at first, it can be incredibly useful. Understanding the ways in which issues affect your entire family will allow for solutions that will improve your interpersonal relationships in a quantifiable way.
Knowing these facts about marriage and family therapy going in will make deciding whether this type of therapy is right for your family easier and less stressful.
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