Different Types of Family Therapy & How it Can Help

 


Family is forever. 

They’re supposed to be the ones that you can lean on no matter what -- whether things are going right or wrong, good or bad. Without a good relationship with your family, living a quality life that’s full of excitement and love would be extremely challenging.

 

As you grow up in this crazy world we live in, your family has a lot to do with your upbringing. They influence your life in every way and inspire the decisions, thoughts, actions, emotions, and behaviors you make daily. After all, they help shape you into the man or woman you are today.

 

While having a strong and supportive family is important, not everyone is fortunate enough to experience it. Some families are broken and other ones simply don’t get along with one another. It can truly put a damper on the mental and physical health of each family member involved.

 

So, what’s the goal behind family therapy?

 


Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy that can have a resounding effect on the relationship between family members. The main goal behind family therapy is to help resolve conflicts and disagreements between a family. It addresses the health and function of that specific family.

 

While family therapy often applies to  blood relatives or family members that live in the same household, that doesn’t mean it’s limited to these individuals. In fact, family therapy applies to just about anyone that has or had a long-term impact and supportive role on that individual’s life.

 

The techniques and methods utilized in family therapy are generally taken from other forms of popular therapy, such as cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and much more. When done correctly, it can seriously improve the relationship between family members.

 

Are There Different Types of Family Therapy?

 


Family therapy comes in a variety of different forms, which is what makes it such an effective way of resolving conflict between family members. The type of family therapy that’s chosen is heavily dependent on each unique situation, which ensures the proper techniques are utilized.

 

That’s why it’s important that you get a qualified and experienced family therapist. If you’re interested in learning a little more about family therapy and the different types of family therapy available today, we’re going to detail the five most popular types below -- so let’s get started!

 

1.    Bowenian Family Therapy

This type of family therapy is one of the most popular today. It was developed by Murray Bowen, hence the name Bowenian family therapy, in the 1940s. It’s based on the theory that all relationships are built on two opposing forces -- the need for companionship and independence.

There are a number of different concepts involved in Bowenian family therapy. For example, it focuses on their ability to separate feelings and thoughts, triangulation, emotional patterns passed down through generations, sibling order, emotional cutoff, and social expectations.

Bowenian family therapy is best suited for individuals that don’t want to involve the other members of the family. It involves bringing in a third person to act as a common ground between two family members, as well as learning to reduce the person’s amount of emotional reactivity.

 

2.    Structural Family Therapy

As the name suggests, structural family therapy is largely concerned with the structure of the family. This includes the boundaries, hierarchies, subsystems, and coalitions within the family and often requires the therapist to ‘join’ the family -- that way, they can observe these things.

In order to induce positive change within the household, the therapist identifies issues with direct interactions between two or more family members that might be contributing to the overall problem. By fixing them, the therapist can slowly start to rebuild the structure within the family.

This type of family therapy is much more involved than Bowenian family therapy. It looks at the overall function of the family and looks for positive changes that can be made to enact change within the family itself. It was developed by Salvador Minuchin, a family therapist, in the 1970s.

 

3.    Systemic Family Therapy

Another extremely common and popular form of family therapy is systemic therapy. Also known as family systems therapy, this form of therapy helps individual family members better understand how their thoughts, actions, and behaviors impact the overall dynamic of the family.

It helps each member of the family understand that when one family member is going through something, every member of the family is going through that same thing. It essentially looks at the function of each part of the system (family) in relationship to the whole system (family).

Much like Bowenian family therapy, family systems therapy was developed by Murray Bowen. He began developing it in the late 1950s and early 1960s when he was a psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health. Today, it’s used in a variety of different and unique situations.

 

4.    Strategic Family Therapy

Also known as brief strategic family therapy (BSFT), this form of therapy helps identify problem areas and risk factors with the overall interactions of the family. By reducing these problems and risk factors, the therapist can help solve negative behavior by a child or adolescent in the family.

It involves the therapist joining in on the family system, identifying weaknesses and strengths in that family system, and restructuring the family system or interactions within the family. It will improve various skills, including conflict resolution, behavior management, and communication.

In contrast to other forms of family therapy, brief strategic family therapy is designed to be a short-term type of therapy. Sessions are usually no longer than an hour and a half, with most families generally seeking three to four months of treatment (around 12-16 overall sessions).

 

5.    Narrative Family Therapy

Narrative family therapy, also known as NFT, is a form of therapy that separates the individual from their problem. It uses the power of personal stories to help an individual make sense of their purpose and meaning in life. The individual is essentially the ‘narrator’ of these stories.

This form of therapy was developed by Michael White and David Epston as a more productive and collaborative way of resolving conflicts between an individual and their family. It involves externalizing sensitive issues instead of objectifying them in a way that undermines the solution.

With narrative family therapy, the individual is encouraged to use their own skill sets to find a solution to the problem. The goal isn’t to transform the individual, but rather to transform the effects of that problem by using alternative or preferred storylines in addition to the original story.

 

Strengthen Your Family’s Bond With Therapy

Your family is extremely important to your past, present, and future. If you’re worried about your past relationship, present relationship, or future relationship with your family, that’s enough cause for concern to warrant seeking help -- and therapy is one of the best options available.

Although therapy often has a negative stigma attached to it, it’s an excellent way to strengthen your family’s bond. If you’re interested in getting started with family therapy or need help finding a qualified family therapist in your area, contact our good friends over at BetterHelp today.



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