Who are they for? What are the benefits?
Family therapy is a type of psychotherapy that involves all or part of the family members in order to resolve conflicts, improve communications and relations between them.
The goal of such therapy is to help family members understand and address the issues that are affecting the dynamic between them.
I work with families to help them identify patterns of behavior that may contribute to difficulties in their relationships, and we try to develop strategies for changing those patterns in a positive way.
Often, family therapy is used to address issues such as behavioral problems, substance abuse or misconduct with one or more children with whom the interaction is complicated and has a negative impact on the rest of the family. Those therapies are based on the principle that the troubled child is part of a troubled family itself as a whole. He/she is, in a way, the visible symptom of this family in difficulty.
They can also be recommended in the context of a parental separation or divorce and in custody issues in order to support the child in this ordeal.
It is a collaborative process that involves the active participation of all family members and the therapist.
It will therefore be necessary to address all the aspects of the interactions that regulate the complex functioning of the family group. It must be kept in mind that any group requires a certain stability to survive, and that touching one of its members can unbalance the others. It has a domino effect.
The most commonly used techniques are either :
Systemic therapies, born in the USA, which are based on the so-called "systems" theory. They consider the family as a system, and seek to restore its balance by relying on theories of communication ;
Psychoanalytic family therapies that use individual psychoanalytic concepts to understand the structure of interpersonal conflicts in action in the family group. They take into account the projection of the parents' unresolved psychic conflicts onto their child, who experiences them passively. And they consider the intervention of transgenerational conflicts : the unresolved conflicts between the parents of the suffering child and their own parents are often projected onto this child.
Who should participate ?
For a better care, it is often preferable to meet all the family members, parents, brothers, sisters or even grandparents of the patient. At least during the first sessions. Then, the sessions will bring together the essential stakeholders of the family group.
How are the sessions going?