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What is Family Therapy? Who Needs Family Therapy?

Learn more about family therapy along with its goal, techniques, and benefits, and how you can get started at Boardwalk Recovery.

What Is Family Therapy?

Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy that aims to improve interfamilial relationships and behavioral patterns. This is done by addressing issues that uniquely affect a family's mental health and functioning. Family therapy conventionally involves family members receiving counseling as a group.1

The National Center for Biotechnology Information conducted a study in 2019 to establish the impact of serious mental diseases on a person's family (parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, and children) and surrounding community. The study's findings revealed a significant multidimensional impact over multiple generations, highlighting the need for intervention programs, such as family counseling, to address the multigenerational impact of mental health issues, particularly in low or middle-income communities.

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What Happens in Family Therapy?

Family therapy can help a family deal with the effects of stress, anger, or grief. A certified therapist will talk to everyone in the family during family counseling sessions to better grasp the general situation.

The therapist will then ask questions on family roles, rules, and behavior patterns to identify factors that lead to conflict. The therapist will devise a
treatment plan to assist family members in communicating more effectively, address problems, and find new ways to collaborate.3

Goals of Family Therapy

The typical goals of family therapy include:4

  • Understanding and managing unique family situations
  • Reducing conflict and distress among family members
  • Improving the home environment
  • Examining the family's interactional dynamics
  • Mobilizing the family's inner resources
  • Enhancing communication
  • Strengthening the family's problem-solving behavior

Types of Family Therapy

During therapy for family issues, therapists may use a variety of treatment modalities. Some family therapy examples or types will be detailed below.

Family Systems Therapy

The internal family systems therapy technique concentrates on the collective belief systems of the family. The fundamental tenet behind this approach is that a family is an emotional unit and all behavior must be understood in the family context, as the individuals’ impact can be influenced by their entire family.5

Structural or Strategic Therapy

Structural family therapy is concerned with the structure of the family unit, while strategic family therapy focuses on patterns of interactions between family members.

Both strategic and structural family therapy modalities function to acquire a better knowledge of individuals within a family system in a bid to understand the structure of hierarchies that exist as well as how they connect to one another.6

Narrative Therapy

The foundation of narrative family therapy is the idea that, throughout a person's life, personal experiences generate personal stories, and the meaning that people assign to these stories ultimately shapes who they are and how they act. Narrative therapy helps to analyze these personal experiences in the proper context.

Transgenerational Therapy

This therapy technique explores a family's interactions over generations to analyze and explain existing family problems and anticipate future challenges.7


Family psychoeducation therapy involves collaborating with mental health specialists to assist family members with mental health challenges. This form of treatment allows these individuals to recover faster and maintain psychological health.8

Who Needs Family Therapy?

All family therapy practices aim to assist families in dealing with issues, challenges, and difficult times in a way that strengthens the family. Deciding if family counseling is appropriate for a family can be difficult initially, but choosing family counseling could very well be a significant step forward.

If a family is exhibiting one or more of these signs, it may be time to consult with a trained family therapist:

  • Behavioral problems
  • Communication problems
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • A family member's mental illness
  • Financial problems
  • Difficulties between siblings
  • Death of a loved one
  • Issues with extended family members
  • Infidelity
  • Separation or divorce

Family Therapy Techniques and Approaches

Family therapy techniques address conflict and promote understanding and interaction among family members. Several family therapy models and techniques are available to use in sessions.

Each family’s differing needs often determine the format applied in a given situation. Some of the methods that professionals could use will be discussed further below.


Structural family therapy focuses on altering power dynamics and strengthening the family hierarchy to establish appropriate boundaries.


The internal family systems therapy technique functions to aid family members in safely expressing and exploring tough thoughts and feelings to understand and accept each other's experiences and points of view, build on family strengths, and make beneficial adjustments.


A psychodynamic approach of family therapy concentrates on the interconnections of the mind, body, and environment. It exhibits a particular focus on the connection between family members' unconscious intra-psychic experiences, conflicts, structures, and cognitive processes.9


Strategic family therapy has typically been employed when a person within a family experiences psychological or physical challenges that are thought to result from a dysfunctional family unit.

This therapy approach is thus intended to make family members aware of their unhealthy behavioral tendencies and encourage them to re-conceptualize the issue and resolve it as a unit.

Benefits of Family Counseling

The benefits of family therapy are numerous and cannot be overstated. The family unit is often the primary point for initiating and escalating problem behaviors, particularly among teenagers and young adults. Functional family therapy sessions are crucial for an individual's physical and mental health.

Scope of Family Therapy

Studies have gone on to assess different types of family therapy interventions, mostly to determine the efficacy of functional family therapy as part of an endeavor to introduce evidence-based interventions to the juvenile justice system.

These findings established that the various types of family therapy approaches currently being utilized in behavioral healthcare are indeed evidence-based intervention programs that have proven substantially beneficial for at-risk adolescent youth and their families. They aid in dealing with and reducing a wide range of adolescent problems such as youth violence, drug abuse, and other delinquent behaviors.

Ways Family Therapy Can Help

Family therapy is regarded as highly beneficial, as it helps to:

  • Improve communication
  • Enhance relationships
  • Address dysfunctional interactions
  • Make families stronger
  • Increase self-esteem

Getting Started

The decision to begin internal family systems therapy can be nerve-racking and riddled with uncertainty. Still, it is one of the best decisions a family can make when faced with varying issues.

When considering family therapy, it is beneficial to seek a reference from a doctor or to look for professionals in your region who specialize in this sort of therapy. In addition, conversations should be made around the availability and preference of each participating family member to ensure compliance along the way. 

What to Expect

It is natural to have concerns or questions, but understanding what to expect can alleviate some of these concerns. Several family members are typically brought together for internal family systems therapy sessions. The therapist can recommend individual sessions if necessary. Family session therapy is normally conducted over a short period (approximately twelve sessions total), with each session lasting about an hour.

During family counseling or therapy sessions, individuals can expect the therapist to: 

  • Have a systemic perspective
  • Concentrate on the relationships of family members rather than one designated patient
  • Utilize a strengths-based strategy
  • Align with your goal for better family functioning

How to Find The Right Therapist

Some tried-and-true strategies for locating the ideal family therapist to assist you in reaching your therapy objectives include:

  • Asking your primary care doctor for a referral
  • Asking someone you trust who has had family therapy
  • Using a reliable online database
  • Contacting your health insurance company and ask for a list of therapists that are in-network
  • Reaching out to organizations that address your area of concern

Get Family Therapy at Boardwalk Recovery

The family is the functional unit of every society, and the proper functioning of a family allows individuals to live happier fuller lives. At Boardwalk Recovery, we recognize the importance of this family unit. Therefore, we are fully involved in providing family therapy to help each member resolve conflict, deal with trauma, recover from illnesses, and live happier lives.

The health and well-being of each family member is our prime concern. We deliver this care through trained experts and therapists with years of experience helping families recover and become stronger together. 

Family Therapy

Begin Healing as a Family Today

Our family therapists are trained in a multitude of techniques and strategies that can help you and your family work through whatever issues or problems you may have in order to create a stronger bond and healthier unit as a whole.

contact Boardwalk Recovery today for more information on family therapy and how to start family therapy sessions near you.
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