Family therapy has been around for many decades and over that time has continued to evolve with new ways of understanding problems and helping families and individuals. Family therapy grew out of the recognition that individuals are born into, develop through and live in a social and inter-personal context. What this means is that family therapists view the forces between and around people (rather than the forces within individuals) as important for understanding and treating problems.
Family therapy focuses on:
1) What we can learn about family beliefs and from family history: e.g. about roles, rules, culture, and patterns over time and across generations;
2) Assisting families with coping, given the challenges of meeting the demands of family life and transitions, e.g. coupling, incorporating children, adjusting to adolescence, launching children into adulthood, dealing with retirement and old age, and so on.
3) Managing the stressors of family life such as mental and physical illness, divorce/separation, loss, migration and disability; and
4) Utilising the supports, resources and hidden strengths that exist within and around the family.
You may be forgiven for thinking that family therapists only consult with families of young or adolescent children. Family therapists also consult whole families of any age group, with individuals, parent(s), couples, siblings, extended family members, even organisations.
So if you are concerned about anyone in the family being:
- In constant conflict
- Communicating poorly with each other
- Appearing overly unhappy or withdrawn, worried, fearful, aggressive, showing signs of weight or food problems
- Having trouble adjusting to a life transition or major loss or change
- Needing support in coping with a serious mental disorder such as an anorexia nervosa or schizophrenia, or with an illness such as cancer or dementia
… then you could consider consulting a family therapist.