What is family therapy?
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?
- 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