“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.” Confucius
What is a Family?
Depending on the culture, a family may be composed of simply blood relatives, adopted parents, a foster family or an extended family. Undoubtedly, the family that one acquires upon one’s birth, influences every single aspect of one’s life. Dysfunctionalities within a family affect all its members, to a greater or lesser extent. If these problems are not dealt with or cannot be resolved by their own efforts, then professional assistance should be sought.
Family therapy or family counselling is a form of treatment that is designed to address specific issues affecting the health and functioning of a family. Furthermore, it helps to alleviate the emotional pain as well as the negative thinking patterns and other disturbing behaviours which are exhibited within the familial milieu, often causing despair, anger and chaos.Needless to say, the aforementioned emotions comprise part of the spectrum which diminishes the quality of communication within the family. To conclude, family therapy can be used to help a family through a difficult period of time, a major transition, or mental or behavioural health problems in family members.
A holistic approach to treating problems within a family is the most effective way to achieve results. It should be noted that the benefits of family therapy, amongst others, include:
- a better understanding of healthy boundaries and family patterns and dynamics
- enhanced communication
- deeper empathy
- instilling trust in family members
- establishing and cultivating a supportive family environment
- helping family members understand the importance of forgiveness
- improved problem solving
- reduced conflict and better anger management skills
A family therapy session usually lasts between 60-90 minutes; the intervals between sessions are from one to several weeks depending on the presented problems, needs of the family members, the stage of the treatment and other variables. Decisions over these matters are negotiated collaboratively with clients and any other involved professionals. Although it is hard to estimate and it differs widely, the average length of family therapy treatment ranges between 6 – 20 sessions.
Depending on the needs and the nature of the problem, family therapy may take place with either the entire family or simply the parents or the children or as individuals.