Updated on March 30, 2022
What is Marriage and Family Therapy?
A family consists of a group of people from as few as two to a much larger group. But each family is made up of individuals. Sometimes one family member will encounter a problem and the result is suffering or. Sometimes there will be a breakdown in a relationship meaning two or more family members have a falling out.
It is this type of situation which requires the services of a marriage and family therapist. These professionals are trained to deal specifically with families and their problems.
A marriage and family therapist may discover that only one person has a major problem e.g. alcoholism, drug abuse, schizophrenia, anorexia, hyperactivity, etc. But the therapist will consider all the relationships in the family. This is because one problem, although specific to one family member, impacts upon some or all other family members. This is the heart of family therapy. How are the relationships within the family affected by the problem?
In the majority of cases involving family therapy, the time spent in treatment is relatively short. It’s known as short-term therapy and on average involves about 12 sessions. Not all sessions will be with the entire family. About half the sessions will involve the therapist and one family member, with the other sessions involving the entire family.
People can suffer both physical and mental problems and much of family therapy looks at the psychological impact on the lives of family members. Even if the problem is isolated, most if not all family therapists work on the principle that the entire family is affected in some way and the entire family needs therapy.
The best family therapists have the skills to see the overall picture but will concentrate on the different personalities and needs of the individual family members.
The science of family therapy has evolved over the years. There was a time when the family unit was the traditional one of married parents and children. Today that remains the case but there are variations on the gender and make-up of families today meaning flexibility is essential in dealing with all types of issues.
It’s fair to say that there is no topic or issue involving families which has not been dealt with by a family therapist.
Some families may feel happier with a certain type of family therapist and if so, they should seek that type of professional. For example, if a family is of a particular faith, they may feel happier engaging a therapist who is a member of the family’s faith.
There are different schools of thought and different methods used in family therapy. Without going into technical detail, a prospective client could ask the would-be family therapist to outline their philosophy in dealing with family problems. What is their approach to therapy?
There can be a significant cost involved in this treatment and families with insurance either private or through their employment are at an advantage when it comes to the fee.
Regardless of the fee, the health and well-being of the family is vital and the right family therapist can help resolve any problem a family is facing.
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