Family Therapy


Family therapy is a profession concerned with how to work through problems in a family.  It is a special form of therapy that is very different from treating individuals with problems.  Family therapists attempt to understand how family members relate to each other.

Family therapy began in the 1950s.  It was a radically different way of helping people.  In the past, psychologists saw therapy as a way of learning about a patient’s thoughts and emotions.  They were mostly concerned with causes and effects.  Family therapy focuses instead on personal relationships. This is because family therapists believed that the family was a special social group.  To these professionals, the family was an organism with its own life.  The way family members interact with each other can be a sign of whether or not a family is sick or healthy.

Family therapists try to understand how communication works in a family.  This often involves watching family members work as a team. For example, therapists may ask family members to play together or create some art together.  They take note of who makes decisions and how family members disagree with each other.  They might also visit a family at home and observe their daily interactions.

Family therapists also see how and why people in the family take on certain roles.  For example a father may be too nice to his children.  This may cause the mother to become excessively strict.  By assuming these roles, family members try to provide balance to the family.  Often, these people are unhappy with their roles and family therapists give them a hand so they can have a healthy role.

Did you enjoy this lesson. If you did, why not try this one on Helicopter Parents or this one about Family Meals?