Family therapy is a form of counseling which specializes in treating family relationships. Marriage and Family Therapists can work with every combination of family relationship (whole families or couples, parents with children or individual members) to assist a family to function in more comfortable and useful ways. While most family therapists work alone with family members, others may work in pairs or a larger team of therapists.
• unclear or conflicting rules, roles and expectations;
• wanting clearer, direct and more compassionate communication;
• intergenerational pain around grief, transition and loss;
• patterns of managing and resolving conflict;
• parenting styles and helpful discipline;
• issues arising from the blending of families;
• marriage counseling and relationship repair; and
• better emotional connection between and among family members.
Family systems theory proposes that we as individuals first learn about ourselves, our emotions and how to manage close relationships from the experience we have growing up in our family of origin. This personal experience influences how we tend to function in all other relationships we may have throughout our lives. As we come to better understand ourselves in our family emotional system, and work to heal our natural, anxious reactions to it, we can become more flexible in our marriages, our parenting, and our work and community relationships.
While some forms of family therapy are based in cognitive, behavioral, experiential or psychodynamic psychology, the most commonly practiced methods of this therapy are based on family systems theory. Family therapy developed its theoretical foundations fifty years ago from the developing, cross disciplinary body of knowledge called systems theory. Systems theory proposes that everything we experience in the world is interconnected to its context, and can’t be fully understood without it. When it comes to human beings, then, we don’t know who we are without understanding the relationships we have. Those relationships include the ones we have with family, our friends, our neighborhood and cultures, our work and school environments, and those we may have with the larger systems of language, gender, nationality, or religion.
Family Therapy is specific to the graduate training of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT). LMFTs can be found in private, group and clinical therapy practices across the United States and abroad. Other psychological professionals, such as psychologists, social workers, and professional counselors may also have received some advanced training in family system therapy, and may use its principles and ideas in their work.
Gregory Bateson, Salvador Minuchin, Jay Haley, Murray Bowen, Nathan Ackerman, Virginia Satir, Ivan Boszmormenyi-Nagy, John Elderkin Bell, Philip Guerin, Don Jackson, Carl Whitaker, Betty Carter, Michael White, James Framo, Jay Haley, Walter Kempler , Milton Erickson, Richard C. Schwartz
Mayo Clinic - Definition of family therapy and more
Last updated: 05-14-2013
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