Family Therapy and What It Is

Family therapy, as the name suggests, is a type of psychological counseling that helps families resolve conflicts that they struggle to solve on their own. Marriage and Family therapists usually have a Master’s or Doctoral Degree and are credentialed with the AAMFT (American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy).

It can be in the form of marriage or couples counseling, with your kids and/or other relatives. You may also see your therapist individually if you and the therapist both see fit. The therapist will usually prescribe a treatment plan specific to you and your family’s situation.

What Can You Expect?

Each session typically takes about an hour. It is usually short term, the average being about 12 sessions. However, how many sessions you and your family have depends on you and your family’s situation, types of needs and the therapist’s recommendations. One major thing to remember, however, is that therapy, in of itself, won’t resolve the situation. The healing that takes place is dependent on the work you and your family do outside of the sessions. During the sessions, however, you, your family and your therapist may go over the following.:

  • Examining solutions to you and your family’s issues. This includes self-expression in a more constructive manner, such as using “I” statements instead of assigning blame all the time.
  • Exploring dysfunctional roles, rules and behavioral patterns that contribute to the eruption of conflicts. It also includes developing new ways to work through them and changing any rules as necessary.
  • Identifying strengths as well as weaknesses. Say that you have good intentions behind what you do and say but that the way that you do it or say it tends to set at least one family member off.

As an example, let’s say that you or one of your relatives struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. You, or they, have a lot of difficulty understanding why you or s/he doesn’t just stop and why your or their support isn’t enough for you or s/he to stop. Worse, you or your relative can’t really explain it.

That’s because addiction is a very baffling and conniving mental obsession that can’t be stopped on its own without professional, plus aftercare, help. Addiction is also often called a family disease because it affects the whole family or everyone in the addict’s home. The family or those in the home, often get just as addicted to the adrenaline that comes from chasing the addict around all the time. In that situation, family therapy can help you and your family with: -your familial and environmental triggers that trigger the use or the drinking and healthier ways of working through them. -learn new ways of staying together not only in the physical sense but also having everyone stay on the same page with everyone else. -set individual as well as family goals with healthy reward systems when they’re met.

How to Decide if Family Therapy and a Specific Therapist is Right for You and Your Family?

You can ask your family members, friends, clergy, employment assistance program or your local mental health agencies for recommendations. Here are some questions you can ask before deciding whether a particular therapist would be a good fit for you and your family.:

  • About their education and background. This can include if and how much experience s/he has with your family’s type of situation. -The location of his or her office and whether he or she is available for home visits. Also, their work hours and whether they’re available in case of an emergency.
  • Fees and insurances. This includes the charge for each session and which health insurance plans cover their services. Also, whether you will need to pay the full fee upfront if you don’t have insurance or if your insurance doesn’t cover that specific therapist/service. You will also need to know and let your family know-about any cancellation policies.


There’s more to family therapy than just focusing on your family problems. Family therapy is also about focusing on your and your family’s strengths and capitalizing on them. That’s your starting point for adopting healthier coping skills, rules and behavior patterns. It is up to you and your family to decide if you and your family need family therapy. It is also up to you and your family to determine whether a particular therapist is a good fit for you and your family. Call us at 833-846-5669.