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Family therapy, which is deeply rooted in family systems theory, is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as “a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the improvement of interfamilial relationships and behavioral patterns of the family unit as a whole, as well as among individual members and groupings, or subsystems, within the family.”

 Family systems theory is based on the notion that families are “continuous entities with rules, beliefs, and values that shape each member over time.” Family therapy relies on family systems theory to treat a family unit by addressing and shifting the way the entire family system functions, rather than treating each family member individually. The assumption of family therapy is that issues cannot be successfully addressed or resolved without an understanding of the family dynamics. There are a variety of different types of interventions used in family therapy, some of which include the following counseling techniques:  

  • Systemic Therapy is a technique that believes each family member develops symptoms to cope with the behavior of other members of the family. Systemic therapy approaches problems as they are created in a social and linguistically influenced reality. The primary goal of the clinician is to remain a neutral figure while challenging family members to question their knowledge of the family system, which in turn will lead them to change their behavior and shift the entire family dynamic.
  • Strategic Therapy: developed by Milton Erickson and Jay Haley is an approach driven by the idea that a family maintains problems through repeated responses to family interactions. There are five different parts to strategic therapy including a brief social stage, the problem stage, the interactional stage, the goal-setting stage, and the task-setting stage. The family therapist will help family members learn applicable techniques for solving problems specific to the family’s interaction and structure. 
  • Transgenerational Therapy: developed by Murray Bowen is an approach that recognizes generational influences on family and individual behavior. Therapists will examine interactions between individuals in a family across multiple generations. The family therapist’s observations and analysis of interactions help the therapist to uncover the core issues within the family group.
  • Structural Family Therapy: developed by Salvador Minuchin is an approach based on the fundamental idea that the family structure is responsible for its problems. Families are encouraged to create a structural map to illustrate the boundaries and hierarchies of a family unit. Structural family therapy relies on the notion that to remain healthy a family must maintain a certain hierarchy and establish clear boundaries. 
  • Narrative Therapy: developed by Michael White and David Epston is a non-pathologizing, empowering, and collaborative approach that views people as separate from their problems. It assumes “people have many skills, abilities, values, commitments, beliefs, and competencies that will help them change their relationships with the problems influencing their lives.” The purpose of narrative therapy is to externalize problems to facilitate positive interaction.
  • Psychoeducation: is the practice of educating those with mental health conditions and their families to help support them with their condition. It is defined with four broad goals in mind: transfer of information, medication and treatment support, training and support in self-help and self-care, and the provision of a safe place to vent emotional frustrations.

Further Information and Support

Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all-consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At Upwell Advisors, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process. 

Feel free to reach to contact us anytime via email at sean@upwelladvisors.com. We look forward to supporting you on your journey.

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