Family Therapy

What is family therapy?

Family therapy – otherwise known as systemic therapy – focuses on relationships between a group of people, rather than solely on an individual’s experiences. In this sense, systemic therapy is about helping people in close relationships help each other. Systemic therapy may include parents and children of all ages, grandparents, siblings, partners, friends, carers – or anyone else who is important to the family.

Systemic family therapy - what are the benefits?

Every family system is a bit like a human body. Sometimes it feels great, and things work well. Other times, even small things can feel like huge challenges. When we hurt one part of our body, every part can be affected in some way. But all the parts of the body can work together to help if a bone gets broken – or if there’s an infection. Systemic therapy helps family members work together when something is hurting or just feeling out of sorts.


Systemic therapy works in partnership with people. It enables people to talk together in ways that respect differences in belief, culture, and life experiences.


It views relationships as a resource that can be drawn upon in times of stress to help all members of the family system cope more effectively. It enables family members to express and explore thoughts and feelings in a safe environment. And it invites people to better understand each other’s experiences and to appreciate their needs. It focuses on peoples’ strengths and abilities, and seeks to utilise these to make meaningful changes in their lives.


Systemic therapy is also helpful to people seeking individual therapy, as it enables the person to reflect on strengths and difficulties from a relational point of view.


What happens in systemic therapy?

Your therapist may:
  • Talk about each person’s hopes
  • Encourage everyone to talk about their experiences and ideas and also to listen to everyone else in the group
  • Draw a kind of family tree, called a genogram, to help people think about relationship patterns in the family
  • Ask lots of questions to encourage reflection on each person’s beliefs, values, needs, hopes and assumptions to help facilitate understanding and new ways of thinking
  • Help people to move beyond blame and to begin exploring how everyone can work together towards a shared goal
  • Help people to reflect on patterns of interaction between members of the family system

Frequently asked questions

In family therapy, all difficulties are seen through the lens of an individual being part of a system. There are many different presentations that can benefit from family therapy intervention. As part of our initial assessment, we will always mention whether we believe family therapy would be the most appropriate form of treatment for you.
Ideally, most members will be involved in the therapy process. However, there is some flexibility on this. There may be sessions which involve select family members either due to practical constraints or perhaps when there is a lack of willingness of certain members to participate.
Family therapists are specifically trained in understanding family systems and engage in rigorous self-reflection following sessions. In some cases, two family therapists may work with a family over the course of their therapy. This is to ensure that all the different perspectives of family members are being valued and to decrease the likelihood of divisions or an experience of the therapist “taking sides”.

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Dr Elena Touroni

Dr Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced consultant psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector.

Having obtained a first degree in Psychology (BSc) at the American College of Greece, she completed her doctoral training at the University of Surrey. Dr Touroni is highly experienced in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, personality disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, adjustment disorder and relationship difficulties. She works with both individuals and couples and can offer therapy in English and Greek.

Dr Touroni has held a variety of clinical and managerial positions including as Head of Service in the NHS. Further she has held academic positions for the University of Surrey and the Institute of Mental Health lecturing on specialist postgraduate Masters and Doctorate programmes.

She is trained in several specialist therapeutic approaches such as schema therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based approaches and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). As well as holding a variety of NHS positions, Dr. Touroni is the co-founder of a private practice in Central London that has been a provider of psychological therapy for all common emotional difficulties including personality disorder since 2002. She is the founder and one of two directors of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.