Four Types of Family Therapy For a Happier and Healthier Family
We depend on our families. Starting from an early age, they shape who we become, probably more than we care to admit.
Families are like puzzle pieces, with each piece having a role to play, depending on their responsibilities within the family. Sometimes certain things happen that break the pieces apart. When this happens, a good option is to seek counseling through family therapy.
What Is Family Therapy?
The main goal of family therapy is to help nourish healthy relationships within the family through various beneficial communication methods that get to the root of the problem.
Each family member will learn more about the other and recognize one another’s strengths and weaknesses, hopes, and dreams in an effort to work together towards rebuilding the family unit.
What Is The Role Of A Family Therapist?
Family therapists are licensed professionals with either a graduate or postgraduate degree and are typically assigned by a licensed therapist or clinical social worker. Many are also accredited by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).
A therapist will get the conversation going because productive communication improves the situation. They will also assign certain techniques for the family to use between therapy sessions.
4 Common Family Therapy Techniques
Murray Bowen pioneered this family therapy technique to help a family separate their feelings from thoughts. He called it self-differentiation and believed that this form of therapy reduces anxiety levels within the family unit.
He thought it best to work with individual family members first and then together after progress was made. His therapy method mainly uses genograms, graphic representations of families that begin with a family tree, as an essential tool to sort out intergenerational family dynamics and identify underlying problems.
Two renowned therapists, Milton Erickson and Jay Haley are the masterminds behind this technique. They believed the best way to bring about change is to generate new responses to old behaviors. So, they devised the strategic family therapy technique based on second-order change, which refers to the formation of new reactions to old behavioral patterns. Most of the therapy happens between sessions as family members carry out tasks and assignments given by the therapist.
Developed by Salvador Minuchin, he believed that for a family to be healthy, it must set up certain boundaries because imbalances within the family structure create issues. One of the most-used tools in this technique is the structural map that encourages each family member to define its hierarchies and boundaries.
The systemic family therapy technique is also known as the Milan Model. It believes that family units are interconnected.
Often, a family member will develop certain traits to help them cope with others in the family; it might or might not be healthy and productive. The Systemic technique aims to change unwanted behavior to reconcile the family unit once more.
It strives to accomplish this by having family members use a tool called circular questions.
With the help of circular questions, family members learn to understand one another’s viewpoints with questions like:
- How does problem X affect you?
- What ideas does so-and-so have about situation Y?
- Who in the family cares the most about you?
- What do you appreciate about Z?
We now have a basic understanding of family therapy 101. There’s nothing more important than family. But a family can also be a source of limiting beliefs and toxic behaviors, which causes so many behavioral issues, especially for children.
Family therapy is a comprehensive approach that relies heavily on interpersonal and cognitive therapy. If you feel like the puzzle pieces that make up your family are starting to weaken and break apart, you might consider giving one of these four types of family therapy a try.