Family Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is directed to correct patterns of interactions in family units that create problems and conflict. The premise is that mental health issues arise due to a dysfunctional family. In Family Therapy the psychologist focuses on changing the family structure and dynamics, instead of trying to change individuals. The goal of therapy is to improve the communication and dynamics between family members and create an appreciation of personal boundaries and space. This helps create a healthier family unit, which improves the psychological health of the individuals.
Family therapy is effective for families and children at risk, including single parents, joint families and same sex parent families. In Australia Family Therapy is recommended by APS for use in
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
- Mood Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
- Depression (For adults)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (for children)
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Psychotic Disorders
- Substance Use Disorders
- Conduct Disorders (for children)
- Bulimia Nervosa (for children)
What Happens In Therapy
The psychologist observes the family interactions and then draws out a map of the family structure. The map delineates the family hierarchy, boundaries, sub-relationships within the family, such as between parents or between each parent and child. This map acts as a guidepost for the psychologist to identify changes needed in the family dynamics and helps them identify the interventions needed to restructure the family. Family members may be asked to carry out role play to simulate a problematic situation. To facilitate understanding and create a positive stimulus for the altering the dynamics, the psychologist may also take sides with one family member.
The Science Behind Family Therapy
Family Therapy was developed by psychiatrist Salvador Minuchin in 1960s while he worked with troubled youth in New York. He came to realise during his work that successful treatment of children and adolescents required support from parents, carers and other family members. His observations showed that root cause of most childhood problems lies in the family unit. Therefore, his approach to correct this problem was to create a mechanism for changing the family dynamics. Minuchin studied in detail the family structures, hierarchy, subsystems and boundaries of both functional and dysfunctional families to understand what works and what doesn’t. Based on that study he created family therapy. In family therapy, the psychologists gets actively involved in the dynamics of the family to promote change and strengthen the family structure.
Use Of Family Therapy at Potential
At Potentialz we use family therapy in a number of situations especially when dealing relationship problems among couples and family members, clients presenting with Anorexia Nervosa, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Depression and also when children present with ADHD and Conduct issues.