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What are the 3 goals of family therapy

The family unit is one of the strongest relationships you’ll find. However, even the most tight-knit family can experience problems in communication. Sometimes, those problems last a long time, and hurdles seem insurmountable due to the close proximity and familiarity of family members. It may take a professional to get you all back on track to result in more peaceful home life.

That’s where family therapy comes in.

What is Family Therapy?

A form of psychotherapy, family therapy is designed to reduce distress and conflict through the improvement of interactions between family members. Usually, it’s best to have all family members who are affected by the problem in one room; however, this isn’t always feasible. What sets family therapy apart from individual counseling lies in the perspective or framework, not necessarily how many people are present in the session.

Family counseling looks at problems as patterns or systems that need to be adjusted, rather than focusing on one person’s sole role in the problem. This is why it’s often referred to as “strengths-based treatment.” Strong family relationships play a critical in the overall mental health of each family member. This method can be effective in helping family members adjust to another family member’s struggle with an addiction, medical issue or mental health diagnosis, for example. It can also be used to improve communication and reduce conflict.

Common Reasons for Family Therapy

There are many reasons that may prompt you to seek family therapy, including:

  • If your child is having a problem with school, substance abuse or an eating disorder.
  • If a major trauma or change has impacted the entire family, such as moving, a natural disaster, or incarceration of a sibling or parent.
  • The unexpected or traumatic loss of a family member.
  • Adjustment to a new family member in the home, such as the birth of a sibling or grandparent moving in.
  • Domestic violence
  • Divorce
  • Parental conflict

Family therapy is a specialized skill set, so if you are in need of this type of therapy, it’s important to choose a mental health professional who has the training and credentials that uniquely qualify them to perform this kind of counseling.

Goals of Family Therapy

Family therapy can be helpful to all family members on many different levels. Family therapy sessions can help:

  • Develop and maintain healthy boundaries
  • Facilitate cohesion and communication
  • Promote problem-solving by a better understanding of family dynamics
  • Build empathy and understanding
  • Reduce conflict within the family

Contact Comprehensive MedPsych Systems

We offer family therapy services here at Comprehensive MedPsych Systems. A therapist will meet with several members of your family to help you all more thoroughly understand others’ thoughts, motivations, behaviors, and feelings. Therapy is designed to improve communication and increase effective behavior choices, ultimately helping the family unit to function better. To book your appointment, contact us at 941-363-0878 or fill out our online form.

Your relationships with family members are some of the strongest you’ll ever have. However, even the most tight-knit family can experience complex problems that need to be resolved in a family therapy program with a professional therapist. Sometimes, these issues can be prolonged and become toxic without professional help. The goals of family therapy at Midwest Recovery are to get you and your family back on track to create a more peaceful life with healthy communication. If your family struggles to get along, creating family therapy goals and coming together to get help can make all the difference. Contact us online or call 833.627.0039 today to learn about what our family therapy program can do for you and your family.

What Is Family Therapy?

Facilitated by a psychologist, clinical social worker, or licensed therapist, family therapy can be a short-term method for healing relationships and repairing the lines of communication within your family. Your specific family therapy goals may include all members of your family or only those willing and able to participate in the sessions. When creating family therapy goals, your therapy will be personalized based on the issues you are facing.

What Family Therapy Goals Are Attainable?

Family therapy goals for family therapy sessions will be unique to each family. By creating family therapy goals, you and your family members have the potential to learn several skills that will help to improve a variety of issues, including:

  • Strengthening connections
  • Improve relationships with children
  • Work through issues in your marriage
  • Encourage a deeper understanding of each other
  • Reduce grief, trauma, and lingering anger
  • Help with financial issues
  • Address the impact substance abuse is having on the family
  • Learn how to cope with mental illness
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You may pursue family therapy in addition to other forms of individual treatment, especially if one or more members of your family have a mental illness or an addiction to drugs or alcohol. In cases of addiction, family members can attend family counseling while the individual who is battling a substance use disorder participates in detox, rehab, and additional treatments.

3 Family Therapy Goals to Achieve

Instead of pointing fingers and assigning blame, the goals of family therapy are to identify and address issues together as a unit and work toward healthy resolutions. As you work together on creating family therapy goals, here is what you can hope to achieve:

  1. Learn How To Set Healthy Boundaries: Setting healthy boundaries may play an essential role in any long-term family therapy goals. This is because our boundaries enable us to prioritize all of life’s responsibilities. Boundaries help us set expectations for how we want others, both in and out of our family, to treat us. Learning how to set healthy boundaries is one of the goals of family therapy because it is an important way to measure our sense of self-worth.
  2. Establish Open Lines of Communication: Improving the lines of communication in your family will help ensure that your home environment is more positive than negative and that all members of the family know-how and when to interact, express themselves safely, and receive appropriate feedback. The quality of family interactions directly correlates with how satisfied family members are with these important relationships. On the flip side, poor family communication often increases conflict and harms emotional bonds.
  3. Foster Deeper Understanding and Empathy: One of the family therapy goals for family therapy sessions is to develop a deeper understanding of each others’ experiences and learn how to be empathetic toward each other. When you can understand what your family members have and are going through and develop empathy, your relationships will be improved, and your bonds will be strengthened.

Learn More at Midwest Recovery

The family therapy program at Midwest Recovery will help you set goals for family therapy and improve your most important relationships. Contact us using our secure online form or call us confidentially at 833.627.0039.

How are your family relationships? Thinking about how to resolve family conflict?

You may be wondering:

Is family therapy helpful?

Does family counseling really work?

What can family therapy treat?

First off, let’s acknowledge that family problems are part of being human. 

And, since all families are made up of individuals who each have their own personalities and struggles, conflict is bound to arise. 

Does family therapy really work?

To help navigate life’s changes and challenges and to resolve conflict, sometimes individual family members and the family unit could benefit from the guidance and support of a family therapist. 

A family counselor can help create a safe space for family issues to be addressed.

Family therapy can be helpful for conflict resolution and behavioral issues. 

And, even if things are currently going great in your household—for example, everyone is getting along well, and there are no specific problems to address—your family relationships can still benefit from the communication tools you’ll all learn in family counseling.

A family counselor can create a safe space for family conflicts to be resolved.

Read on to find out the goals of family therapy and the benefits of family therapy. 

Plus, if you think your family might benefit from family counseling and you’re wondering: “How can I find family therapy near me?”—we’ve got you covered with helpful links to family counselors near you who are accepting new clients.

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What is the purpose of family therapy?

A family therapist views the family as a unit, working to treat the familial relationships as a whole. 

Family therapy can treat a wide range of problems, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT):

  • Depression

  • Marital problems 

  • Anxiety 

  • Individual psychological problems 

  • Child-parent problems

A Monarch original infographic showing 5 types of problems that family therapy helps address.

Any individual, or multiple people in the family, may be experiencing any of the problems mentioned above.

As a 2020 study points out, family counseling can either help inform the unit about specific disorders—such as addiction or mental illness—or address conflict and behavior patterns within the family.

According to therapist Ellen Biros, MS, LCSW, C-PD, a common myth is that if there are no specific problems to address, your family may not benefit from family therapy. 

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“Whether family or individual therapy, discussing life with someone who has a third party objective viewpoint, as well as therapeutic skills, can always be helpful,” says Biros.

A Monarch original infographic of a woman and a quote on family counseling provided by Ellen Biros, MS, LCSW, C-PD

Who does family therapy help?

Because family counseling does not focus on one individual but rather the family as a unit, each member can ultimately benefit from the therapy. 

While the entire family is involved, there is often an “identified patient”—such as a child who may have mental illness—who is being treated with therapy that involves the entire family. 

Similarly, if the family is going to counseling because of a parent’s substance abuse, that parent would be the identified patient.

A common myth is that if there are no specific problems to address, your family may not benefit from family therapy. 

For example, a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that even when structural-strategic therapy is sought out because of an adolescent, there is usefulness for “family, dyadic, and individual facets.” 

This means that not only will the adolescent benefit from family members learning how their behaviors help or harm, other individuals (such as siblings and parents) in the family benefit as well.

Family therapy can benefit families of all ages, whether there are young children or everyone in the family is now an adult. 

Therapist Jessica Tang, MS, LMFT, vice president of Caldwell Family Institute, says that when young children are involved, their behavior can actually be an indicator of family issues. 

Family therapy can benefit families of all ages, whether there are young children or everyone in the family is now an adult. 

“First of all, families should know that their children act as the ‘check engine’ light for the larger family,” explains Tang.

“Children suffering from any number of challenges—from depression to anxiety to acting out to shutting down—benefit from family therapy,” she says, “because the child’s ‘symptom’ is often simply a signal of a much larger problematic dynamic in the family.”

Tang points out family therapists don’t believe in treating a child individually, and they often view individual child therapy as yielding little change. 

“Family therapy is a much quicker, more effective way to shine light on what’s really going on to cause these symptoms in a child,” she says.

A Monarch original illustration of a family considering family therapy

It should be noted that family therapy isn’t just for members of a family living under the same roof. 

According to Tang,  in families now composed entirely of adults, if any members are no longer speaking, are having issues adapting to natural changes—new children or in-laws, for example—or if an elder is reaching end of life, family therapy can also be beneficial. 

It should be noted that family therapy isn’t just for members of a family living under the same roof. 

“Adult relationships have an added layer of complexity in that everyone, from a developmental standpoint, is on an even playing field,” she says. ”Parents have to make a massive adjustment in the way they understand, interact with, and form expectations of their now-adult children.” 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes that therapists will often ask the identified patient who they consider to be a member of their family and invite or include those individuals. 

Thus, attendance may be open to in-laws, stepfamilies, extended family members, mentors and more. 

A Monarch original graphic of the advantages of going to family therapy

What are the goals of family therapy and the benefits?

1. Family therapy may improve communication 

As the goal of family therapy is to help families navigate how each individual plays a role in the wellbeing of the whole unit, communication may improve. 

However, this can only happen through collaboration of each member.

If the attending family members are not engaged in the family therapy sessions, the outcome may not be as successful. 

Researchers point out that guarded families can cause issues for a family counselor.

“Therapy as a whole is contingent on the idea that change is necessary, and family therapy—much like individual or couples therapy—does run into the barrier of client willingness and openness to change,” says therapist Angela Caldwell, MFT, founder and president of Caldwell Family Institute based in Los Angeles.

If the attending family members are not engaged in the family therapy sessions, the outcome may not be as successful. 

“What we think is awesome about relational therapy, whether family or couples therapy, is that one member of the family can make a huge impact on the rest of the family system,” she says.

In addition to ensuring an openness and willingness to change among the family members, Caldwell points out that when there is an individual in the family dealing with a personality disorder, eating disorder and/or substance disorder, those challenges may require individualized attention before family therapy begins. 

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“If a family member does decide in the middle of therapy that they’re no longer interested in attending, most likely the therapist would discuss with them why they want to stop participating,” adds Biros. 

“This can be done, either with the other family members present or individually depending on the family member,” Biros says. ”If the family member decides to no longer participate, that is the family member’s right, and family therapy may continue without that family member.”

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2. Family therapy helps to set clear boundaries 

Boundaries are a part of all family relationships. 

When boundaries are not set, for example, children may take on the role of parent. 

Furthermore, when boundaries are not respected, adult children may even choose family estrangement—cutting off communication with family members.

According to a 2019 article published in the Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy, dysfunction is possible when families stray from clear boundaries. 

Boundaries are a part of all family relationships. 

Family therapists use a systemic approach to create transparent boundaries that are understood by all parties.

For example, a 2017 study in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy found that there are positive outcomes for children who attend family therapy with substance-abusing mothers. 

In families with substance abuse, inconsistent boundaries and “unstable attachment style” are often present. 

Family therapists use a systemic approach to create transparent boundaries that are understood by all parties.

Throughout the course of study, the positive impact on children was observed as “connectedness” between family members changed—and, at times, even a decrease in substance use by their mothers was seen.

3. Family therapy teaches families how to embrace change

According to Tang, one of the most significant benefits of family counseling is that it teaches families what to do when things get hard. 

“Families are going to fight because no two people on this earth can completely agree on anything, especially change,” Tang says. “And it’s important to understand what to do when facing disagreement.” 

Not only can family therapy provide a space for conflict resolution, but it can also help individuals learn how to support the greater family in times of change. 

One of the most significant benefits of family counseling is that it teaches families what to do when things get hard. 

Family counseling allows for all parties to feel seen and heard on neutral ground, opening lines of communication and allowing for clear boundaries to serve as a guide for future challenges. 

“Family therapy can benefit the family unit by helping the family explore how they communicate and help to address any issues in this area,” says Biros.

“Family counseling can also help strengthen problem solving skills and identify the family’s strengths and resources,” she says.  

A definition sourced by APA and on structural family therapy and brief strategic family therapy

How does family therapy work?

Family counseling is conducted by a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT).

LMFTs have received a master’s degree and specialized training in marriage and family therapy, focusing on individual and group diagnosis and counseling. 

You can expect an average of 12 family therapy sessions with the goal of having an “end in mind” for treatment, according to AAMFT.

Caldwell says sessions can vary from week-to-week depending on prior sessions or events that occurred following the previous meeting with a therapist. 

For example, sometimes a large group may be present, while other times it just may be an individual or even a smaller group within the family.

“Unlike individual therapy, family counseling has to move and change with the natural ebbs and flows of daily life,” explains Caldwell. 

You can expect an average of 12 family therapy sessions with the goal of having an “end in mind” for treatment.

“That said, family therapists like to work with as many people as possible for most of the therapy, because isolating members for too long defeats the purpose of family therapy,” she says, “Which is to bring members together under a cohesive set of rules and expectations—even those who appear to be ‘outside’ of the presenting problem.”

There are two main types of family therapy: structural family therapy and brief strategic family therapy. 

In structural family therapy, the focus is to help the family function in a way that benefits all of its members. Structural family therapy often employs the tactic of acting out specific scenarios or conversations in order for individuals in the family to better understand each other. 

Brief strategic family therapy, on the other hand, focuses on families with adolescents who have behavior issues.

Again, the family is seen as a unit, and according to researchers, the goal “is to change the patterns of family interactions that allow or encourage problematic adolescent behavior.” 

Since brief strategic family therapy does employ some methods of structural family therapy, a combination of the two methods is possible in a therapeutic setting. 

How do I find a family counselor and family therapy near me?

The Monarch Directory by SimplePractice can help you find a  family therapist.

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You can browse family therapists who take insurance—many who offer free consultations and are even available nights and weekends—so you can find the perfect fit for your family’s needs.

READ NEXT: How to Prepare for Your First Therapy Session

Need to find a therapist near you? Check out the Monarch Directory by SimplePractice to find licensed mental health therapists with availability and online booking.