Systemic Family Therapy, also known as Couple or Family Therapy, is a means of intervention that attempts to understand and address human beings’ pain and distress within the context in which it occurs i.e. the family or relationship environment, such as friendship groups, school/college, the work place and their wider community.
This therapeutic approach does not isolate an individual, but rather facilitates the client/s to make sense of their lives and difficulties in the context of their family or group as an organic whole, whatever form that may take.
Family therapy aims to enhance communication between family members and to cultivate the independence of the individual within the family. It avoids apportioning blame and can involve entire families with parents and their young or adult children, or an individual on their own.
This form of psychotherapy understands that emotional, psychological and interpersonal problems arise within the context of how people experience their life – how they make sense of reality and in their patterns of social engagement and exchange.
The therapist and client together seek to understand both how these patterns arise and how they are maintained; they do this through discussion, reflection and exploration in session and between sessions.
In focusing on the wider system, Family Therapy is well placed to work with families in difficulty, particularly young children and adolescents as systemic processes point to the fact that children’s difficulties are, whenever possible, best addressed in the context of the family.