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The American Psychological Association (APA) defines family therapy as “a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the improvement of interfamilial relationships and behavioral patterns of the family unit as a whole, as well as among individual members and groupings, or subsystems, within the family.” Family therapy is deeply rooted in family systems theory, which is a theory of human behavior. Family systems theory views the family as a living, complex social system, rather than the sum of its individual members. Family therapy uses systems theory to evaluate family members in terms of their position or role within the family system. Rather than blaming a single member of the family for its problems, issues are treated by identifying, addressing, and shifting the way the entire family system functions. Family therapy promotes understanding and collaboration among family members. Although the specific objectives for family therapy are unique to each family, and may change over time, four of the most common goals of family therapy include:

    1. Exploring the interactional dynamics of the family and its relationship to psychopathology
    2. Restructuring the maladaptive interactional family styles:
      1. Facilitate cohesion and improve communication
      2. Develop and maintain healthy boundaries
      3. Build empathy and understanding
    3. Strengthening the family’s problem-solving behavior, and mobilizing the family’s functional resources
  • Creating a more stable and better functioning home environment

Through family therapy, family members have an emotionally safe environment to address specific issues that may be interfering with the functioning, cohesiveness, and/ or health of the family unit. When family relationships are stable and supportive, they can have positive effects on one’s mental health, as they can provide resources that can help a family member learn to cope with stress, engage in healthier behaviors, and cultivate improved self-esteem. In a healthy family unit, family members can rely on each other for emotional support, economic support, and companionship. Family therapy can illuminate and correct dysfunctional family patterns and work to disintegrate unhealthy family dynamics. It can improve communication skills, increase family cohesiveness, and strengthen family relationships. The work that occurs in family therapy is entirely guided by the needs and therapeutic goals of the family unit.

For Information and Support 

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, the long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


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