Family Therapy

Family therapy recognises that family relationships are an important factor in psychological health.  It recognises that relationships themselves can be a means of nurturing change and development. Therefore involving families in solutions is often beneficial.

Family too, in this sense, does not just have to involve the traditional concept of parents and children. Rather, the concept of who counts as family, is more realistically defined in terms of the strongly supportive long-term roles and relationships that people have, which may or may not be connected by blood.

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Family therapy recognises that family relationships are an important factor in psychological health.  It recognises that relationships themselves can be a means of nurturing change and development. Therefore involving families in solutions is often beneficial.

Family too, in this sense, does not just have to involve the traditional concept of parents and children. Rather, the concept of who counts as family, is more realistically defined in terms of the strongly supportive long-term roles and relationships that people have, which may or may not be connected by blood.

The number of sessions required depends on the situation. The average is 5 – 20 sessions. I usually meet several members of the family at that same time. This has the advantage of clarifying the ways family members see things and the differences between them – both outside the therapy room and within the session.  It also makes it clearer for the family members themselves as they hear themselves and each other speak as I ‘hold up a mirror’ from my position outside of  the family. This position of ‘observer’ also places me in an interesting position within the family as well and this can make some differences that can be quite useful.

So in family therapy, the focus is on relationship patterns, rather than on individuals. In the session I am interested in what is going on between  individuals rather than within individuals. Of course, being a therapist I am still aware that there are things going on within individuals,but in the family setting that is not my focus.  What is going on within an individual may need to be addressed in another setting.

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Depending on what has brought the family to therapy, it may be appropriate to focus on looking at specific previous incidents of conflict with a view to suggesting alternative ways in which family members might have responded to each other during it. Alternatively it may be helpful  to look at current sources of conflict by pointing out patterns of interaction that the family may not have noticed, but which, when paid attention to, lead to other ways of being that are more effective in solving problems.

Often the tendency is for family members to ‘blame’ each other as being the cause of the problems. This is not very useful so in family therapy my emphasis tends to be on the solving of problems rather than necessarily identifying a single cause.

Family therapy can be approached from a number of different angles. One is structural, which looks at the roles and boundaries between people in the family. Another is strategic, which sets tasks for each family member between sessions, with a view to noticing the changes that the completion of those tasks brings to the general sense of wellbeing in the family.

There are other ways of introducing change to the family as well. If you think that paying attention to your family relationships would be a useful way to address issues for you and your family members, then feel free to call me and we can discuss this further.