Systemic therapy helps people in close relationship help each other. This may be parents and children of all ages, and may include grandparents, siblings, partners, friends, carers – anyone who is important to the family. Every family system is a bit like a human body. Sometimes it feels great, and things work well. Sometimes even small things can feel like a huge challenge. 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 to 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 beliefs, culture, and life experiences. It views relationships as a resource, that can be drawn on to reduce stress and facilitate coping for all members of a family system. It enables family members to express and explore thoughts and feelings safely. It invites people to understand each other’s experiences and views and to appreciate each other’s needs. It focuses on peoples’ strengths and abilities, and seeks to utilise these to make meaningful changes in peoples’ 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 can I expect if I receive systemically-informed therapy
Your therapist may:
- Talk about each person’s hopes
- Encourage everyone to talk about their experiences and ideas, and to listen to everyone else
- Draw a kind of family tree, called a genogram, to help people think about relationship patterns in their 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, and the effect of these