Family therapy is a beneficial tool in addressing problems that lie within a family.
Family therapy “targets processes within the (family) system that maintain symptoms. If these processes are changed, then all family members can benefit.”
Family therapy not only helps identify the problems that lie within a family system but also helps the family understand why the problem is unhealthy. Then, new alternatives will be discussed, followed by the creation of a new plan that will resolve the problem. Finally, continued support from the therapist will be provided to ensure the family stays on track.
1. Identifying the Problem
Relational problems within a family can be between parent and child, husband and wife, or children. Regardless of between whom the problem lies, all members of the family are affected. This is why it is important to identify and address the problem. Kenneth Barish, a clinical associate professor of psychology at Cornell University says “look for causes, not just symptoms. You will solve problems more successfully when you have been able to identify the daily experiences in life.” A licensed family therapist is an expert at untangling family issues, making them an invaluable asset in solving the problem.
2. Understanding the Root of the Problem
After the problem has been identified, the family therapist will get to the root of the problem. Community Tool Box, a project of University of Kansas Center for Community Health and Development states, “trying to figure out why the problem has developed is an essential part of the “problem solving process” in order to guarantee the right responses and also to help citizens (families) “own” the problems.” Understanding the root of the problem is beneficial to families, because it sheds light on why and how unwanted behaviors formed. It also allows the family members to “own” the actions that created family discord. This will make it easier for the family member to then fix their undesirable actions, thus solving their own problem. Once the family has reached an understanding, they can start working on the next step.
3. Discuss Alternative Behaviors
The next step involves discussing healthy, alternative behaviors. The therapist has a tool box filled with ideas that can benefit the family. One effective approach that may be used is called Cognitive-Behavioral Family Therapy. According to Jin Lan and Tamara G. Sher from the Family Institute at Northwestern University “CBFT is able to focus on a variety of problems, from promoting changes within individuals in families to altering family interaction styles.” The family and the therapist will work together to come up with different ways to address the problem, until the perfect idea is formed.
4. Create a Plan
Next, the therapist will create a system involving the new behavior plan. The therapist has been trained to “apply scientifically validated procedures to help people develop healthier, more effective habits.” The therapist will make sure the family understands how to implement the plan to ensure success and ease of use. All of the work put in between the family and therapist will prove to be beneficial by creating a new way of living for the family that is healthy and happy.
Last, the therapist will support the process with regular visits until the family has mastered their new plan and the original problem has been resolved. If any other problems arise in the future, one can always rely on the family therapist to help solve the problem.
The benefits of family therapy are many. From identifying and understanding the problem to discussing new alternatives and implementing a new plan, a family therapist can guarantee success in reaching family goals through their knowledge and support.