What is Family Therapy?

Your family can be your greatest source of support, comfort and love. But it can also be your greatest source of pain and grief. Families can be torn apart by illness, substance abuse, chronic behavioral problems, divorce, remarriage or other issues that create conflict and stress. Family therapy can help families have a safe context to resolving problems.

Family therapy is a method of psychotherapy based on understanding and treating problems and crises by working with the entire family rather than only the individual. Even if one family member is the identified problem, everyone in the family is usually affected. Family members are often better at developing solutions for problems togethers. Therapy sessions focus on recognizing each person’s thoughts, feelings and behavior within the context of their family relationships. You may explore family roles, rules, unspoken feelings and behavior patterns in order to spot issues that contribute to conflict. Family therapy will help you identify your family's strengths and weaknesses. The goal is to help everyone express their opinions, harness and strengthen family resources, and help family members work collaboratively toward more effective solutions to their problems. Family therapy can help your family weather the storm and develop new emotional muscles to prevent serious ruptures in the future.

What Kinds of Problems Are Treated by Family Therapy?

Family therapy helps families with a broad spectrum of problems including, but not limited to, school difficulties, childhood and adolescent troubles, divorce, blending families, life cycle changes, bereavement, learning disabilities, substance abuse, child abuse, chronic medical illness, eating disorders, and depression. Family therapy may be the treatment of choice for a problem or it may be an addition to other types of individual treatment.

What Will Our First Family Therapy Session Be Like?

Just as all families are different, each family's first session will differ. It is customary for everyone living in the household to come to the first session, although there are certain circumstances where it is better to meet with the parents alone first and then the child or teen alone before convening together. I will be interested in having all of you talk about your problems, how they developed, what you have tried to do about them, and what changes you would like to see happen. I will also give you feedback about how I understand your family and set a specific plan for treatment. Future sessions may include the entire family or different combinations of family members depending on the specific goals.